Computer games have been cited as a cause of ADHD but now they may offer a solution. Professor Michael Posner and colleagues have published a study called Training, maturation, and genetic influences on the development of executive attention. They had four groups of children, 4 year olds, 6 year olds and two age matched control groups. The 4 and 6 year olds had five days of attention training, after which "Both 4- and 6-year-olds showed more mature performance after the training than did the control groups".
There is almost nothing on what the attention training was in the abstract but coverage on KSDK Can Computer Games Train Kids’ Brains To Pay Attention? says "They adapted computer exercises used to train monkeys for space travel into games for 4- and 6-year-olds: For five days, the youngsters progressed from a game that moved a cat in and out of grass to more complex tasks, such as choosing the largest number amid deliberate distractions".
I was introduced to a great new toy recently, the Bop-It Extreme II. This is a great game for people with poor hand eye coordination and can be played on your own or in a group. It also helps develop a sense of rhythm.
The game is hard to describe and really needs to be played with to do it justice. Have a look at this page on the manufacturer’s web site. I got mine from W H Smiths’ for £20 and they can be ordered from Firebox for £25. Amazon (.co.uk and .com) only seems to have the older, less good, Bop It Extreme.
As a kid, I could not catch a ball. Rather than gracefully plucking the ball out of the air like the other children I would flail wildly and if I was lucky the ball would sail past me. When I was unlucky the ball would hit me in the face. [Note to parents: A boomerang is not a good thing to give to a dyslexic child. Thirty years on and I still have the scar]. Whenever I played any sort of ball games I would always spend far more time retrieving the ball than actually catching or throwing it. As this was boring and often humiliating, I avoided playing ball games whenever I could and of course my hand / eye coordination never improved.
Plusballs are designed to prevent this negative feedback loop forming and allow all children to develop good hand / eye coordination. The idea behind Plusballs is simple. If a normal ball is too small and too fast for children to use, then make a bigger, slower ball.
Whilst research is still being done on the full effect of video games on a child’s brain, one thing for certain is that children are spending a lot more time sitting in front of the television and computers. As movement is a vital part of the brain’s development, the loss of time spent being active may have a significant impact on a child’s educational progress. It also tends to lead to over-weight and unfit children which has a serious impact on their long-term health. An arcade game called Dance Dance Revolution in which the player has to dance in time and in step with the game’s directions is being put forward as an aid to weight loss.
Recently I’ve been looking into similar games to see if they can be used to assist people with under-developed vestibular and cerebellum. Eye-Toy Groove is a Sony PlayStation 2 ConsolePlayStation game where you have to dance and wave your arms about in time with music. There is no doubting its a lot of fun (especially for drunk adults) and if you are looking for a fun, simple way to get you or child moving, this is it. Its clearly not a replacement for a properly designed vestibular / cerebellum development programme but it could help someone learn to move their body more freely. The downside to this game is that even at its easiest levels it may be too difficult for some people and without a lot of help and positive support it could have a negative impact on self-confidence.
See Also: Watching TV ‘is bad for children’;Children’s progress ‘hit by TV’.