While technology can help alleviate symptoms connected with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in students, it must be employed carefully and judiciously in order for it be an advantage, rather than a detriment. Previously we discussed how students with ADHD are also more prone to anxiety, and mentioned how physical activity is best at alleviating nervousness. Although physical activity is a great way to manage ADD/ADHD, a holistic approach is also required which employs educational technology, tech devices with apps, and even video games.
Many children labeled with ADD/ADHD are generally products of our instant gratification and short attention span society. Yet, what if we were to utilize the potential value of this high-speed technology to help students with ADD/ADHD learn more effectively? Perhaps students with attention and behavior problems would learn better with high-stimulation technology. The US Department of Education suggest that assistive technology that make instructions more visual and allow constant active participation, can benefit students with ADD/ADHD.
In-fact, non-linear ways of learning and accessing information, such as the internet with links that click to further links across a fractal network, mimic to some degree the way that ADD/ADHD minds process and assimilate information. The advantages of computers for students with attention difficulties includes instant feedback, interactive aspects that constantly engage the mind, and the ability to self-control stimuli. Distractibility, which has been regarded as a negative quality, seen in a positive way, is perfectly suited to a cyber-environment. It is considered associative and creative, and allows ADD/ADHD students to better process fast paced information. This is also true for the wide array or mobile devices.
Psychologists find that facilitating students with mobile technology and apps designed to declutter and minimize distractions are a successful way to help ADD/ADHD students focus and process information. Child psychologist Randy Kulman notes on US News that apps can help with writing, improve working memory issues, and help support weaker executive functions. Kulman states that “tech is not the cause of ADHD,” and believes that it should be used to “assist children with ADHD and other academic and learning challenges to more effectively process information and enhance processing speeds.” Access to such technology is becoming easier particularly in education. Software developers are now able to create targeted programs that cater to students with ADHD. The education sector has benefited from the increased number of professionals who now study software development, with Maryville University detailing how mobile technology is continuing to expand globally. The university notes that: “apps, games, and virtual reality are the new norm.” The axiom, “there’s an app for that” is now truer than ever. Everything from laptops to home appliances are becoming smarter and much more interactive.
With apps that can help students by taking notes and allowing them to listen to a specific portion later, or provide text-only versions of web material to minimize distractions from ads and other links, ADD/ADHD students can focus their attention. For instance, TeacherTube is an educational YouTube alternative which houses educational information to help parents, students and teachers, in categories such as math and science. All this is available on smartphones and tablets. They can be used by ADD/ADHD students to set reminders, as well as take photos of homework or assignments so that they can reference them later on. Since a good memory can be an issue for students with attention and concentration problems, these apps are creating a way for kids to improve their attention and focus.
Video games are another great tool, and when used educationally can help with memory and improve focus. Video games can also help ADD/ADHD students manage real-world situations, as games generally involve setbacks and problem solving. Psychology Today explains that children learn to develop strategies, recognize patterns and focus intently on a certain task. As such, puzzle, strategy and other similar video games can help ADD/ADHD students who struggle with these aspects, improve their attention spans.
Article specially written for risescholarshipfoundation.org by Natalie Johnson