Saturday, October 9, 2010

“PC + PS3 + PSP + Wii + TV = ADHD” Whatever Happened to You and Me?

Do you ever get the feeling that our kids are over stimulated? Interactive game systems, a television station just for cartoons, Baby Einstein from the moment our kids can see, it’s no wonder that they can’t sit down in classroom anymore without the teacher having to do a song and dance while standing in front of a Smart Board. Do children have quiet “me” time anymore?

I am currently the father of one child. My wife and I are both in education and have several family members with kids. Our discussions recently have focused on attempting to manage the amount of stimulation our child receives in a given day, week, and month. It is a major concern of ours since we can only control it as long as we are around them.

I have a strong feeling that we over diagnosing ADHD in this country. It has become a fad among parents. Simply google this controversy and you’ll quickly see what I mean. Sure, many families would be devastated if they felt that anything was wrong with their kids and many feel that having an IEP is linked to a negative educational experience. However, this diagnosis has allowed hundreds of thousands of parents to take advantage of section 504 of IDEA. It provides the same accommodations that an IEP would and reduces the stigmata that parents fear. Some superficial perks are that these students can have extra time on classroom and standardized tests including the SAT’s and in a competitive “Ivy League” world a little edge never hurt. Also, parents who don’t care to be on top of their children’s homework can fall back on modified expectations. Sometimes I don’t feel that these accommodations are for the students at all!

I raise this issue because I feel like there isn’t actually anything wrong with these students. I believe they are simply the product of an over stimulating home environment. The are spend a majority of their time in front of a flashing, beeping, changing, loud, and draining monitor that fires off neurons until they are almost too burned out to keep their eyes open. Have ever seen the way a child becomes lost within a TV program or game system. You could be right next to them, call their name and get no response. Their brains are so occupied that yes, they have an attention disorder. Place them in a classroom where a teacher is giving a brief lecture followed by a worksheet and you could just imagine what takes place next. “Billy, could you stop tapping that?”, “Samantha, please focus up on the board.”, “Daniel, please sit down.” And the comments are endless. All of this followed by a teacher conference where a self-conscious parent is confronted with a child that doesn’t follow directions. I’m sure it easier to believe that your child has an attention deficit disorder than to except that your parenting skills might have produced a learner who is not conducive to the current day classroom.

I’m in no way implying that technology is a bad thing. In fact I feel quite the opposite. I think that it is something that needs to be introduced to kids as early as possible. However, it needs to happen in moderation and under supervision. Future classrooms will utilize theses devices and students will become apt at responsible usage.

What I am saying is we have to remain aware that when you live in a world where technology appears in the home before the classroom, students will look for new ways to be stimulated in school. In the crossover we as educators need to be cognizant and refuse to allow for the over diagnosis of conditions such as ADHD. Also, as parents and child advocates we should make sure to promote healthy “me” time for kids that doesn’t have a plug attached to it.

What do you think?

By Joe Putrino



  1. I think it's hard to quantify a cause and effect about time spent with "plugged in" devices and behavior in school.

    I am more concerned with how parents are using these devices with kids. Are they being used as a babysitter, or are parents doing activities on the computers with their children? The preschool years are essential times for kids to develop the building blocks of interpersonal skills and parents are their first contacts. Spending time with others may be exciting, but it can be just as fulfilling to simply hang out in a quiet way. I am worried that we are letting technology dictate our lives rather than taking control and using technology to enhance our lives.

  2. I agree with the fact that children are over-stimulated these days. And it may also be true that children are over-diagnosed with ADHD. However, I think ADHD is so very a complex issue, that I don’t want to simplyfy it as just being caused by overstimulation. I am not keen on giving medication to kids (I don’t even give Tylenol to my own children), however, correctly diagnosing a child could help teach a chlid and parent coping skills to deal with their deficiencies. To Nancy: What do you think about a "Kindle"? Would reading on the "Kindle" be considered hanging out in a quiet way while using technology?

  3. Thinking back to my childhood, I can recall the "best Christmas I ever had" when I FINALLY got my Nintendo. I was so excited to play such fun video games, and trade games with my friends.

    To my surprise, I was very disappointed in Santa....he gave me Jeopardy, Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune. He also wrote me a note saying I was only allowed to play for a half hour, 3 times a week.

    As my parents told me, "Santa wants me to be smart!" Needless to say, I thought twice about leaving Santa cookies the following year!

  4. I am currently without my personal computer. It has been only two days since I handed it over to the Geek Squad to fix it and already I am going through serious withdrawals.

    I think that whether it is technology or something else, moderation needs to be practiced. Moderation helps us to appreciate what we have, avoid addictions and not take things for granted. We live in an instant gratification world. Things have to happen quickly, dynamically and to one’s liking in order for pacification to occur. We are always looking for the next best thing. Moderation is an important discipline.