Why can my Child Focus on Video Games but not Homework?
“He can definitely focus on video games (or Youtube) for hours, so I’m not even sure if he has a focus problem..maybe he just doesn’t want to do his homework..?”
We hear this all the time. And while, yes, pretty much all kids do better with preferred activities, there is 1 MAJOR REASON things like video games, Youtube, TV, etc. are so much easier for your child to focus on.
The two sides of our brain run very different types of attentional networks.
To keep it simple: The left side of your brain is short-term, and the right side of your brain is long-term.
Short-term attention runs on dopamine. When you’re playing video games, you’re always getting coins, getting points, killing someone, and getting lots of sounds and flashes and information on your screen telling you that you’re doing a great job.
This creates dopamine! And even though it’s over a long period of time, it’s actually just one long chain of short-term attention & dopamine strung together.
Homework, reading, and other non-preferred activities require long-term attention from the right side of the brain and we don’t get any dopamine from those.
So although your child can focus really well & for a really long time with video games or other screen time, remember that it’s a very, very different type of focus than what we need for learning and reading. It comes from a totally different place in the brain.
If your child is struggling to focus on homework, they might just need a little extra work on the right side of their brain (and probably some visual work too.)
Bonus: This is why your child gets so upset when you make them shut their game off! You’re taking away their dopamine supply!
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