For the longest time, video games and mental health have had a negative connotation.When a horrific tragedy occurs in the United States, perhaps the first association made is how violent video games “caused it to happen.” However, more and more studies have shown that violent video games do not cause violent behaviors and there are more factors that have to be taken into account.
As more people open up about how video games positively affected their mental health, the negative video game reputation fades. In lieu of this change, more developers are turning to video games in an effort to see how this media can potentially continue the trend of a positive mental health impact.
Enter Akili Interactive, which in 2020 released EndeavorRx, the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved video game that helps treat children ages 8-12 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Healthline explains ADHD is a mental health disorder that can cause above-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. ADHD is prevalent in both adults and children, and those diagnosed with ADHD have a tougher time focusing or sitting still. One in 10 children between the ages of 5 to 17 are diagnosed, making it one of the more common disorders in the U.S.
Though both therapy – talk or behavioral – and medication can help treat ADHD, Endeavor is the first to treat it through a video game. After five clinical trials conducted with more than 600 children with ADHD across 15 states along with more than 150,000 hours played in clinical trials, Endeavor was cleared by the FDA.
Moreover, Akili recently announced that it had secured $160 million in financing, which will further its promise of digital therapeutics.
Studies available in three-month treatment periods have shown that after one month, one-third of children no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention. After the second month, 68% of parents saw improvement in ADHD-related impairments.
Endeavor’s design allows it to focus directly and activate neural systems through the presentation of “sensory stimuli and motor challenges to improve cognitive functioning” through an app available on iPhone or an iPad. Lastly, Endeavor is used in conjunction with the aforementioned therapies, medication or educational programs and must be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Video games are no longer just seen as a tool for perverting the minds of children. Now, they’re also seen as a way to positively help their mental health. If Endeavor is a peek into the future, then video games are in a good spot to improve all of our lives.