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ADHD And Video Games: Are Video Games Good For ADHD 2023?

Lisandra Fields

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

adhd and video games
Unlocking the potential: Video games as ADHD treatment

Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of children and adults worldwide. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor executive functioning skills. 

While traditional treatment methods for ADHD typically involve natural remedies and behavioral therapy, there is growing interest in the potential of video game play as treatment. In recent years, research has suggested that certain types of video games may[1] improve attention, cognitive control, and executive functioning skills in individuals with ADHD. 

This article will explore the link between video games and ADHD and the potential benefits and risks of using video games as a form of ADHD treatment. We will also take a closer look at some of the best games for kids with ADHD and how they may be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Are Video Games Linked To ADHD?

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that video games are directly linked to the development of ADHD. However, some studies have suggested that excessive or inappropriate video game use may be associated with increased symptoms of ADHD, particularly in children and adolescents. Other research suggests that certain types of video games may be beneficial for improving attention, cognitive control, and executive functioning skills in individuals with ADHD. While it’s important to be mindful of the potential risks of excessive video game use, also consider the benefits of using video games as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for ADHD.

The Link Between ADHD And Video Games

There is growing interest in the potential of video games as a form of treatment for ADHD, as studies[2] have found that various types of video games may help improve executive functioning skills, cognitive control, and attention in people with ADHD. 

When you play video games and you have ADHD, you’re providing yourself with a highly engaging and interactive environment that can stimulate your brain’s reward centers and improve dopamine regulation. Additionally, ADHD games for kids may provide a sense of control and mastery to help them feel more confident and engaged in their learning and development.

Benefits Of Playing Video Games

Here are some benefits of playing video games: 

Cognitive Benefits 

Video gaming has been found to enhance cognitive skills[3] such as attention, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving. For example, action games that require quick reactions and decision-making have improved attention and reaction time. Puzzle games can enhance problem-solving and spatial reasoning abilities. These skills can be transferable to other areas of life, such as school, work, and daily tasks.

Social Benefits 

Online gaming communities provide opportunities for social interaction and a sense of belonging. Many games allow players to communicate and collaborate with others worldwide, which can enhance social skills and provide a supportive network. This is particularly important for people who may struggle with social anxiety or have difficulty making friends in traditional settings.

Stress Relief 

Video games can serve as a form of relaxation and stress relief. Playing games can distract from daily stressors and help people unwind after a long day. Additionally, some games incorporate relaxing elements such as calming music or serene environments that can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety and depression.


Playing video games can be a fun and engaging way to pass the time. With a wide variety of genres and styles available, there is a game for everyone. Many people who play video games find it an enjoyable hobby that allows them to explore new worlds, challenge themselves, and have fun. 

Healthcare Benefits 

Video games have been used in healthcare settings to aid in pain management and physical therapy.[4] For example, virtual reality games can distract from pain during medical procedures, and physical therapy games can encourage patients to engage in fun and interactive mental exercises.

Educational Benefits 

Some online video games have educational content that can provide a fun and interactive way to learn new concepts and skills. For example, games that teach coding or foreign languages can make learning more engaging and enjoyable. Games incorporating historical events or scientific concepts can provide a new perspective on traditional educational materials.

Can You Use Video Games To Control ADHD?

While video games cannot cure ADHD, they have been shown to help manage symptoms and improve overall functioning for some individuals with the disorder. Some studies suggest that certain types of video games, such as action games or games that require multitasking, can improve attention and cognitive control[2] in people with ADHD. 

However, it’s important to note that video game treatment should not be the only form of treatment for ADHD, and you should work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. And take care to monitor for video game addiction symptoms like playing for increasing amounts of time or thinking of gaming when involved in other activities.

Warning Signs 

It’s important to note that everyone experiences these symptoms occasionally, but if they persist and interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of ADHD. Suppose you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms. In that case, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan:


Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty sustaining attention on tasks, particularly those that are not inherently interesting or engaging. They may make careless mistakes, forget things, and struggle to follow through on instructions. They may also have difficulty with organization, losing important items such as keys or phones.


Hyperactivity is a key symptom of ADHD and video game addiction, particularly in children. Children with ADHD may appear overly active and have difficulty sitting still or waiting their turn. They may be fidgety or restless and may engage in excessive physical activity or noise-making.


Impulsivity[5] is another hallmark symptom of ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may act without thinking and may interrupt others in conversation or blurt out answers to questions. They may have difficulty waiting their turn or may engage in risky behavior without considering the consequences.

Poor Time Management 

Individuals with ADHD may struggle with organization, planning, and completing tasks. They may struggle to prioritize tasks and may underestimate the time required to complete them. They may also procrastinate or become easily distracted, leading to difficulty meeting deadlines.

Relationship Problems 

Individuals with ADHD may struggle with social skills and maintaining relationships. They may struggle to listen to others or may interrupt conversations. They may also struggle with reading social cues and may misinterpret others’ intentions. This can lead to difficulties in forming and maintaining friendships or romantic relationships.

Poor Academic Or Work Performance 

Difficulty with attention and organization may lead to poor performance in school or work. Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty completing assignments, may be forgetful, and may struggle to follow instructions. This can lead to lower grades or job performance evaluations.

Emotional Instability 

Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty regulating their emotions.[6] They may have mood swings, become easily frustrated or irritable, and may have a low frustration tolerance. This can lead to difficulties with relationships and may cause interpersonal conflict.

Risk-Taking Behavior

Individuals with ADHD may engage in risky or impulsive behavior without considering the consequences. They may have difficulty with impulse control and may engage in dangerous activities such as reckless driving, substance abuse, or other risky behaviors. This can lead to negative consequences such as injury or legal trouble.

Some Video Games For ADHD

Here are some of the best video games for people with ADHD: 

Action Games 

Games that involve fast-paced action and require quick reaction times may be beneficial for improving attention and cognitive control in individuals with ADHD. Examples of action ADHD games for adults include first-person shooters like Call of Duty or platformers like Super Mario.

Puzzle Games 

Games that require problem-solving and critical thinking may help improve executive functioning skills in individuals with ADHD. Examples of puzzle games include Tetris, Sudoku, and Portal.

Racing Games 

Games that require multitasking and quick decision-making may improve attention and cognitive control in individuals with ADHD. Examples of racing games include Forza or Mario Kart.

Role-Playing Games, Or RPGs 

RPGs allowing players to create and customize their own characters and explore vast, immersive worlds may help improve attention and engagement in individuals with ADHD. Examples of role-playing games for ADHD adults include The Elder Scrolls series or World of Warcraft. Endeavorrx is a splendid RPG for children with ADHD. 

The Takeaway

In conclusion, while video games should not replace traditional treatments for ADHD, they can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive treatment plan. 

By providing an engaging and interactive ADHD video game that can improve attention, cognitive control, and executive functioning skills, you offer a promising new avenue for your loved one with this condition. However, it’s important to approach video games cautiously and to select appropriate games beneficial for each individual’s unique needs. 

+ 6 sources

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  1. Sújar, A., Martin-Moratinos, M., Rodrigo-Yanguas, M., Bella-Fernández, M., Gonzalez-Tardon, C., Delgado-Gómez, D. and Blasco-Fontecilla, H. (2022). Developing Serious Video Games to Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Tutorial Guide. [online] 10(3), pp.e33884–e33884. doi:https://doi.org/10.2196/33884.
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2022). Video gaming may be associated with better cognitive performance in children. [online] Available at: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/video-gaming-may-be-associated-better-cognitive-performance-children
  3. Sattar, S., Khan, S. and Yousaf, R. (2021). IMPACT OF PLAYING VIDEO GAMES ON COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING AND LEARNING STYLES. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/357385738_IMPACT_OF_PLAYING_VIDEO_GAMES_ON_COGNITIVE_FUNCTIONING_AND_LEARNING_STYLES
  4. López-Liria, R., Checa-Mayordomo, D., Vega-Ramírez, F.A., Victoria, A., María Ángeles Valverde-Martínez and Rocamora-Pérez, P. (2022). Effectiveness of Video Games as Physical Treatment in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis: Systematic Review. [online] 22(5), pp.1902–1902. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051902.
  5. Pauli-Pott, U. and Becker, K. (2021). Impulsivity as Early Emerging Vulnerability Factor—Prediction of ADHD by a Preschool Neuropsychological Measure. [online] 11(1), pp.60–60. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010060.
  6. Shaw, P., Argyris Stringaris, Nigg, J.T. and Leibenluft, E. (2014). Emotion Dysregulation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. [online] 171(3), pp.276–293. doi:https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13070966.
Lisandra Fields

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Lisandra Fields is a freelance medical writer from Pennsylvania who creates articles, blog posts, fact sheets, and website content for health-related organizations across North America. She has experience working with a wide range of clients, from health charities to businesses to media outlets. She has experience writing about cancer, diabetes, ALS, cannabis, personality psychology, and COVID-19, among many other topics. Lisandra enjoys reading scientific journal articles and finding creative ways to distill the ideas for a general audience.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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