10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Brain Training Games
In the news recently have been several stories about brain games and how they can help children with ADHD. The science is still in its infancy, but there is every indication that the best brain training games can play an important role in addressing the specific cognitive skills kids need to succeed in school, in social situations, and in life. For educators looking for ways to supplement a medication strategy with extra-pharmaceutical therapy, these stories provide a glimmer of hope for the future. It’s no wonder that so many companies have suddenly popped up, looking for a piece of a previously untapped market.
But with so many brain games for sale, how do educators and administrators decide which ones are worth the money? More importantly, how do they know which ones will actually help their students? In an attempt to cut through some of the fog, we’ve come up with 10 important questions to help educators who are choosing brain training games for their kids.
1. How does the program measure success?
If you play any game long enough, you’re bound to get better at that specific game. What is important is whether the game is actually having a long-term effect on cognitive development. A good program should include a third-party assessment that measures cognitive growth outside the confines of the game-specific skills. After all, unless your student is planning to count monkeys or save princesses for a living, they will not benefit greatly from learning only in-game mechanics.
2. Does the program have data that shows it works?
Some educators, in efforts to find non-pharmaceutical options for their students, can fall prey to unscrupulous snake oil masquerading as science. Legitimate program developers will put science before sizzle, and you won’t have to dig too deeply to find data backing their claims. Before choosing brain training games, make sure you can find data that demonstrates a record of success.
3. Is it clear how the program transforms improvement in cognitive skills to the real world?
It’s not enough that a game “improves cognitive development.” The makers of any program should be able to tell you – clearly and concisely – how the skills learned through their brain games translate into real-life results. Look for specific answers here, such as academic test improvement, better social awareness, and strengthened attention span.
4. Do the games automatically provide progressively more challenging tasks in response to each student’s performance? Can it make these individual adjustments several times within one class period?
One of the chief reasons cognitive training games work so well is because they provide an intense level of engagement for the ADHD child. That engagement, though, can quickly turn to boredom if the game can’t adjust its difficulty to the student’s performance. The more often it can make these adjustments, the better off the student will be. Even a game that challenges the player to make some initial strides can fail this test if it doesn’t provide some level of automatic customization.
5. Does the program provide real-time data, cognitive reports and customer support that can be easily understood and used by educators?
Too many of today’s cognitive training games are just that: games. A program specifically designed to help kids with ADHD will provide assessments and feedback that can be used to make important inferences about how the student is progressing. And you shouldn’t have to wait around for months to find out what’s working and what isn’t.
6. Does the program provide a structured, scientifically-designed regimen that is also customizable for each individual user?
Any educator experienced with ADHD already knows the importance of structure and customization. Make sure the brain games you purchase incorporate this philosophy into their play. If there is anything researchers have learned about ADHD, it’s that one-size-fits-all strategies leave many students behind. Executive function disorders can take many forms, so the best brain training games will be able to address needs across a wide spectrum without sacrificing precision.
7. Does the program integrate physical exercises with computer exercises?
There is a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests a link between physical exercise and the improvement of ADHD symptoms. Any set of computer exercises that doesn’t incorporate physical exercise is skipping a huge component of therapeutic success. Besides that, most educators would agree that their students don’t get nearly enough vigorous activity during the school day. Increased athleticism can lead to more confidence, reduced obesity, and better overall health.
8. Does the program develop all the major executive functions or just one or two?
Look for brain games that are designed to address executive function disorders in their totality. Students with ADHD often have problems with working memory, problem solving, planning and execution, task flexibility, and other key cognitive capacities. It’s inefficient to just tackle a couple of these problems while leaving others unaddressed.
9. Does the program provide automatic and individualized corrective messaging and guidance that help students improve their performance on their own?
Unless you have all the time in the world, you don’t want a program that requires you to sit by the student’s side every time they sit down to play. If the games are designed correctly, they should provide at least some of the guidance students need to work through the system by themselves.
10. How motivating are the games?
Many brain games fall on one side or the other of a crucial spectrum. They are either too boring and clinical, or they focus too heavily on fun and entertainment. The best brain training games fall in the middle, providing just enough motivation without hindering their ultimate purpose.
A Brain Training Program That Answers the Questions
We can’t speak for every program on the market, but there is one system that can certainly stand up to this scrutiny. ACTIVATE™ was scientifically designed to be motivating, fun, and effective, and there are plenty of case studies to back up its claims. By mixing computer training with physical exercise, ACTIVATE™ tackles cognitive therapy with a double-pronged approach that leaves no stone unturned. Real-time assessments are built into the program, and the brain games are designed to adjust automatically to each student’s needs and abilities.
The science behind ACTIVATE™ has been well researched and strenuously tested, claims that not every cognitive training program can make. With just three to five structured sessions a week, students can make significant gains in all areas of executive function. With a training schedule designed to be flexible and inclusive, ACTIVATE™ can be used effectively in schools and healthcare facilities. If you’re looking for brain games that live up to the hype, your search is over.