Why Too Much Gaming Makes Your Attention Wander

A recent study conducted at Iowa State University has concluded that exceeding guidelines for viewing television or playing video games can do something bad to your attention span, or whatever. I wasn't paying attention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens limit their television viewing and game playing to no more than two hours per day. They're extremely serious about this. If you were to ask a member of the academy about this on the street, they wouldn't even crack a smile.

So what happens when children and young adults exceed these limits?

In a 13-month study, Edward Swing and colleagues at Iowa State monitored the viewing and playing habits of 1323 middle-childhood test subjects and 210 late adolescent subjects. Both groups provided self reports of their viewing and playing habits, while the middle-childhood group info was bolstered by parental reports, while taking into account any trouble reported by the children's teachers.

What did the study find?

"Those who exceeded the AAP recommendation were about 1.6 times to 2.2 times more likely to have greater than average attention problems."

At first, this completely shocked me. Then I found a neat picture of a bunny and posted it at the top of the article. Hello there, bunny!

According to the Television and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems report, which can be viewed in full at the Pediatrics website, fast-paced television shows and video games train the mind to expect faster-paced input. As Edward Swing puts it, "You prime the mind to accept that pace. Real life doesn't happen fast enough to keep your attention."

So what can we do? Dr Dimitri Christakis of the University of Washington in Seattle stated, "These media aren't going away. We do have to find ways to manage them appropriately."

Or, we have to start teaching children in such a way that doesn't lag their minds.

Man that bunny is cute. Don't you just wanna scritch his lil' ears?

Greater attention span problems reported when exceeding TV and video game viewing guidelines [Examiner.com]


Comments

    Okay, So now what do we do if we've been playing games from 8 years old to 25 years old non-stop.

    What do we do to get help? Going around and telling people they have problems is one thing but knowing what to do about it seems like a better use of time.

    hurr, bunnies :B

      I guess we have to play slow-paced video games for the next 15 or so years to balance it out.

        *Loads up Civ4*

          Hahaha, I love Kotaku and I love it's forum posters, hahaa.

    What a cute bunny.

    My friends call me Bunny!
    (could this be considered an attention span problem? :( )

    I only visited this post to see the bunny.
    Awwww!

      He's eatinmg a leaf! Adorable. Kotaku please keep writing more reports about bunnies :)

        You silly son of a frenchman!

        He;s holding the leaf for camouflage!

        Can't you see the wide eyes? He's thinking "Shit! I hope they haven't seen me!"

    Man.. I set that bunny to my desktop.

    On another note...
    We should all play oblivion!

    This kind of scares me. They say that video games make us more comfortable with a faster paced engagement, and real life seems slower by comparison. And I holey agree with that.

    What scares me is I find a lot of my games to be too slow, and I regularly play them while doing something else (crosswords, watching a movie, etc) to keep them interesting.

    Oh hey, a bunny!

    That;s an awesome bunny!!!

    In all seriousness, i have a TERRIBLE attenion span... It's almost impossible for me to maintain focus during any conversation unless it's about games...

    That makes a lot of sense to me.
    I cant even watch movies or tv much because just watching something happen is not enough to keep my mind occupied.
    My writing is terrible because my hands cannot keep up with the words in my mind and the pace I read at.
    I get incredibly bored at social occasions as standing around talking even with alcohol or poker does not come close to holding my attention.
    And I am pretty much totally incapable of doing any form of study in my own time. Seriously, I last about 2 minutes before I get frustrated and give up.

    Well shit. This explains why my HSC studying is going so shocking.

    I got some work to do it seems D:

    I dont have a terrible attention span.
    I just think everyone else is boring.

    And for the record I couldnt get past the first paragraph.

    As someone who raised on video games I have to disagree. Personally speaking, my attention span is quite fine and can actually pay attention to something regarded to as slow-pace, like classwork or reading a book, for extended periods of time. Also for reference, I primarily play FPS's but that's only because no-one releases any interesting strategy games these days...

      But how do you go with things you're not interested in? Personally I've got a terrible attention span but I can still do certain slow paced things. For example I recently started getting back into Warhammer 40,000 and I don't have much trouble paying attention while painting fine detail. I can also spend long periods in the gym without any problems.
      That said I can't focus on even moderately paced tasks that I'm not interested in.

    I knew it! Lawsuit!!

    Play some harvest moon. Or sins of a solar empire. Slow paced gaming can be fun.

    Don't play games guys, it will make you think too fast.

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