Is Too Much Minecraft Mind-Numbing for Kids with ADHD?
By: Lewis S. Odell, Ph.D.
What is too much Minecraft? If your ADHD child loves to play Minecraft he or she is just like a lot of other kids. But children with ADHD sometimes get too focused on preferred activities, and Minecraft (along with some other video games), can be one of those interests. Games such as Minecraft that have no beginning or end are not easy to walk away from, and, as a result, some kids with ADHD may show an obsessive interest in them, spending too much of their time playing or thinking about the game.
Parents may wonder if so much Minecraft is good for kids with ADHD. Probably not, but it’s not all bad, either. Minecraft practices a variety of executive-functioning skills such as planning, flexibility, and organization and promotes creativity, collaboration, digital literacy, and other 21st century skills. Kids learn about history, math, physics, and geology as a result of playing Minecraft, and it can spur interest in architecture, art, electronics, and construction.
Too much Minecraft is not good for kids with ADHD. If your child insists on spending all of his or her free time playing Minecraft, you may need to find an effective way to set limits and to encourage other interests. Probably most importantly, you’ll also need to encourage your child to engage in activities such as playing outside, exercising, and hanging out with friends. If you want to let your child play with technology, try to parlay his or her love of Minecraft into learning coding skills, creating Minecraft videos, trying out some new games, or playing with Legos. Expanding the array of interests of children with ADHD helps them to sustain their attention across settings.
If it seems like your child can only think about Minecraft (or another favorite video game) you might need to take more definitive action through limit setting. Too much of any technology or interest may be mind-numbing in that it prevents children from learning about the rest of their worlds. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to set limits if a child with ADHD is happiest, most focused, and least oppositional while engaged with electronics.
Here are a few simple strategies for kids with ADHD who want to play too much Minecraft:
1. School comes first. Allow Minecraft play only after all schoolwork is successfully completed.
2. Make Minecraft play into social time. Insist that time on Minecraft be done in conjunction with friends from school or the community.
3. Talk about their Minecraft goals before playing. Engage in a discussion that prompts your child to use skills such as planning, metacognition, and sustained attention in her Minecraft play.
4. Expand your child’s interest beyond the game. Insist that your child try other sandbox games, consider creating “let’s play” videos, or teach you or other siblings how to play Minecraft.
Learn more about Dr. Odell:
Dr. Odell is the author of numerous essays on the use of digital technologies for improving executive-functioning skills in children in which he has developed concepts such as “play diets” and “engamement” to help parents and teachers understand the impact of digital technologies on children. He is the author of Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions and Playing Smarter in a Digital World: A Guide to Choosing and Using Popular Video Games and Apps to Improve Executive Functioning in Children and Teens.