Kids, Video Games, Posture & Breathing

One of my favorite 8 year olds can’t get enough of his Wii.  I enjoy this child and hung out with him recently while he played his favorite video game.  He was hunched over on the sofa and I promise you, his breathing was undetectable.  With some coaxing, he moved to a wooden chair.  For the first 3 minutes, he sat up straight, then he smiled at me, said, “I like to slouch,” and continued his game slouched in the wooden chair.

Did I mention that this is how he spent his Saturday morning  just before going to an appointment with the doctor helping him with his ADHD issues?

Shallow breathing and temporary breath holding up regulates the sympathetic or fight or flight nervous system response.  I call this email apnea.  If your child has ADHD or impulse control issues and also hunches in front of a computer or video game or in front of the television, it might be time to consider an intervention that involves teaching a breathing technique that up regulates the parasympathetic or rest and digest response.

I recently spent some time playing with the HeartMath emWave Desktop software.  With short games, a player  manages his/her breathing pattern as part of game play.

At TEDMED 2009, Dr. Daniel Siegel mentioned research he’d conducted using breath training to manage ADHD.

Sometimes pharmaceuticals are the most effective option for treating a condition.   In many cases, for conditions involving impulse control, regulation of emotions, ADHD and other attention issues, it may be worth looking into options that help”re-set” the autonomic nervous system:  various breathing techniques, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, cranial-sacral, and certain forms of acupuncture.

Performance, particularly dance and music, often involve training in breathing techniques.  The same is true for certain sports.

The way we breathe is central in regulation of attention and emotion, cognition and memory, and social and emotional intelligence.

Published by Linda Stone

I coined the phrases continuous partial attention, email apnea, and screen apnea. I write about attention and our relationship to technology.

3 thoughts on “Kids, Video Games, Posture & Breathing

  1. anytime one meditates, anytime one perceives beauty standing in front of a painting, the breath slows, or even stops … it is the natural accompaniment to a quietening of the mind

    what does the phrase “quietening of the mind” mean? certainly fewer thoughts, more presence and mindfulness, subtler mental activity in general … and in spiritual terms it implies being closer to the perceiving self, less caught in the objects of perception

    this is not a bad thing, in fact it is a very good thing … buying into the drama of one’s thoughts is completely unwise

    ancient breath techniques such as prana or qi gong actually are for “control” of the mind, in that they result in more refined breathing and this naturally leads to a quiet mind

    so is the child with the game doing something useful for his life, or not? a yogi might say he is in his subtle body, relaxing, much as in sleep, we are fully “slouched”

    the western science model of mind and physiology has no tools for understanding what really is happening here. why games may be bad, why entrainment and biofeedback machines may also be bad, they too often hold the mind at a grosser level than the mind actually wants to go to in a state of restful alertness. to “measure” this the best the west can come up with so far is “brain waves”, a kind of advance on the phrenology of the 19th century, still not subtle enough in understanding the relationship between mental activity
    and breath

    what is happening now in the collective consciousness as a whole, whether video games, constant partial attention, email apnea, are not necessarily bad things. these are the surface signs of a broadening of the very concepts of individuality, thinking, and being

    just because they may hinder “productivity” as it is currently understood and therefore is a problem is not important, if one considers the meaning of what is productive is changing very very rapidly


    gregory lent

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