Dr. Randy Kulman, Ph.D. - How Video Games Improve Executive Functions for Kids with ADHD

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Dr. Kulman has been on the forefront of using digital play and technology to help children with ADHD. As the author of Playing Smarter in a Digital World, he articulated strategies to transform popular gameplay into improvements in skills such as organization, planning, flexibility, and time management.

Dr. Kulman’s work starts with catching kids where they are-playing popular video games such s Minecraft, Roblox, and Pokemon- and transferring the skills they need to succeed in the game to their day to day activities.

Dr. Kulman’s work is based upon today’s kids. Kids are immersed in technology and social media- which he recognizes as having pros and cons, but it is not going away anytime soon. His construct of a healthy “Play Diet” which recognizes the power of play in children's lives and stresses the importance of social, physical, creative, and unstructured play along with digital play is particularly relevant to the behaviors of kids with ADHD

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The demands of the 21st century have placed a new set of demands upon children.No longer are we training kids to be housewives, farmers or factory workers. The skills that are needed for students are 21st century skills of problem solving, creativity, flexibility, sustained focus, collaboration, and self direction.

Unfortunately, for kids with ADHD, these skills may be difficult to master. We need to explore innovative ways to teach these powerful skills to kids with ADHD. While medication, behavioral therapies, and focusing techniques are helpful to many kids with ADHD, we have access to many powerful technologies that show great promise for helping kids with ADHD.Virtual reality, neuro-technologies, and brain training all show promise.

At the same time, today’s kids are drawn to the engaging technologies available on everyone’s screens. However, generalizing or transferring the skills and strategies that kids use while playing games requires more than more screen time.

And using apps and tools that can support weak executive functioning skills is not helpful unless the child is trained in how to use these technologies and develops habits to use them when and where they are useful.

Dr. Randy Kulman, Ph.D. is the founder of LearningWorks for Kids (http://learningworksforkids.com/), an educational technology company that specializes in using video games to teach executive-functioning and academic skills.

He conducts neuropsychological evaluations of children with executive functioning and attention difficulties at South County Child and Family Consultants.

His passion is leveraging children’s play for learning. His latest project is LW4K LIVE, which is a live, online, small-group executive function tutoring program that uses games such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Pokemon to practice and improve executive functions in school settings, online learning platforms, and extended day programs.

Learning works for Kids is also providing independent self-directed classes and individualized executive functioning coaching, focusing on the use of technology to support and improve executive functioning skills.

Additionally, Dr. Kulman is the author of numerous essays and book chapters on the use of digital technologies for improving executive-functioning skills in children and in finding a balance in children's use of digital media with other forms a play, construct he refers to as a “Play Diet”.

His current research projects include the development of a parent and teacher scale for assessing executive-functioning skills in children and a large survey study examining how children with ADHD and Autism use popular video games and apps.

He is an advisor and occasional writer for Psychology Today, ADDitude Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, and Commonsensemedia.org. He is the author of three books; Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions, Playing Smarter in a Digital World, and the recently published, The Gaming Overload Workbook for Teens.

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