Numerous studies have documented the negative effects of television exposure at a young age; TV viewing has been linked to behavioral and attention problems later in life. Now researchers confirm the same effect of video games on attention problems in both younger children and teens.
Studying two groups of students — a group of 1323 4th to 6th graders, and a set of 210 college undergraduates, psychologists at Iowa State University and the National Institute of Media and the Family report that video games contribute as much as television viewing to an increase in attention problems in school. What was most surprising to the scientists was the fact that the difficulties were as strong among the older children as they were among the younger ones. That suggests, the authors say, that regardless of when television viewing or video game playing exerts its strongest effect on attention, the influence is long lasting. Further research will be needed to further tease apart how the exposure is affecting concentration, and whether exposure to the rapidly changing images that are characteristic of both TV and video games are reinforcing weak attention spans.