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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Hyperactivity computer games link
Computer games
Parents should monitor computer games, experts say
Hyperactive children spend much longer playing computer games and watching TV than healthy children, researchers say.

They asked parents and teachers about the habits of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Children with ADHD were more likely to play games based on fighting.

Researchers told the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry conference in York children with ADHD may develop unnatural patterns of media use.

It's important for parents to be fully engaged in what their children are getting from their media diet
Dr Justin Williams, University of Aberdeen
Researchers analysed 24 boys between eight and 12 with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD, a condition where children have problems of paying attention and impulsive behaviour.

Another group of children recruited from a youth centre and an asthma out-patients clinic.

All the children were interviewed and questionnaires were given to parents and teachers.


Children with ADHD spent 11.3 hours a week playing computer games, double the time spent by the other group.

A third of those with ADHD preferred fighting-type video games while 59% preferred cartoons.

In the other group, one in 10 enjoyed fighting games and 40% liked cartoons.

Children with hyperactivity disorders were also found to watch television and videos for an average of 44.1 hours a week, compared with 36.4 hours a week for the other group.

Teachers reported poor social abilities, rather than hyperactivity, were linked to computer games.

They suggest children with ADHD may be prone to abnormal use of media which affects their social skills and how they respond to treatment.

Dr Justin Williams from the Department of Child Health at the University of Aberdeen, told BBC News Online: "The children who spend longest playing computer games seem to be the ones who are the least sociable.

"They were the least socially able and the most technically able, which leads them to prefer computer games to social interaction."

He said children with behavioural problems tended to prefer TV, particularly cartoons.

"It's very important that we don't forget about things like the family situation, where kids can feel alienated in their bedrooms watching TV.

"It's important for parents to be fully engaged in what their children are getting from their media diet."

He added: "It's possible to get a lot out of TV, and there are lots of good computer games to play.

"Parents should watch TV with their children, join in, rather than children being isolated."

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