Last updated: November 27th, 2019
I’ve been experimenting with a “Death Clock” browser extension for my Google Chrome browser.
My Death Clock browser extension shows me roughly how many days of life I have left every single time I open a new browser tab (in Google Chrome).
It’s like a countdown timer for your life.
(You can install the Death Clock here, if you happen to use Google Chrome for your laptop or Android smartphone).
Experimenting with my mortality has made me think about how much time I’ve wasted doing stupid stuff in the past, like:
- Arguing with people on the internet
- Mindlessly browsing travel websites (I’ve always been obsessed with travel)
- Abusing cannabis
- Playing video games
Out of all these activities, I probably wasted the most time playing video games.
While growing up, I was hooked on games like Counter-Strike, and other first-person shooters. Thank God I never played World of Warcraft or MMORPGs…
But, between overnight LAN parties, after-school gaming sessions, and weekend tournaments, I probably spent 1000+ hours playing video games.
While there’s no point in worrying about the past, it’s important for people with ADHD to learn from my experience, so that you can create a better future for you and your family.
Why people with ADHD love video games
There isn’t much credible evidence to suggest that video games cause ADHD or anything like that.
But, people with ADHD are drawn to video games for a few different reasons:
- Video games make you feel like you’re progressing in life
- Video games allow you to take bold risks without suffering any real consequences
- Video games make it really easy to hyperfocus for hours on end
- Video games provide you with instant gratification and huge bursts of dopamine
Video games provide all of the qualities that people with ADHD are looking for in life.
Unfortunately, video games are also a massive waste of time and mental energy, because video games don’t provide people with ADHD with any lasting benefits.
Why people with ADHD should avoid playing video games
Video games are a form of escapism without any lasting benefits attached to the experience.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of escapism. Everyone needs to step away from work, and enjoy some play time. I’m a huge fan of letting loose and living life to the fullest.
But, video games literally rob you of your mental energy, and then leave you empty-handed.
Think about it like this:
Have you ever finished a gaming session and felt more energized afterwards?
For the most part, you feel mentally drained after playing video games. And on top of that, you walk away from your gaming console (or smartphone / tablet) with absolutely nothing to show for.
But what if you enjoy playing video games for just a few minutes per day?
If you can control yourself, and play video games for just a few minutes per day, then you’ll probably be OK in the short-term.
The average person spends about 15 minutes playing video games every day.
Playing video games for 15 minutes every day isn’t going to hurt your quality of life over the span of a few weeks or months.
But, let’s think about the long-term impact of a minor video game habit.
Playing video games for 15 minutes every day adds up to hundreds of hours spent playing video games over the long run.
In fact, the average young person spends 10,000 hours playing video games before they’re 21 years old.
So, if you currently play video games, you could eventually spend hundreds or even thousands of hours doing something that doesn’t benefit you over the long-term.
To add to the problem, ADHD is a disorder of self-regulation. Having ADHD means that you probably like to take things to the extreme. If you have ADHD and you like to play video games, you could easily develop a video game addiction that spirals out of control.
This happened to me when I started playing Grand Theft Auto (GTA) a few years back. I started to play GTA for just a few minutes per day. Then, my small video game habit quickly spiraled out of control, and I was back to playing video games for hours on end.
I’m not trying to spread fear here. Video games aren’t the worst thing that you can spend your time on. But, that’s exactly what makes video games so deceitful. Video games aren’t going to kill you. They’ll just slowly drain your energy and waste your time over the course of multiple years. By playing video games, you’re wasting time that you will never get back. The opportunity cost of playing video games is enormous. Especially while you’re still young.
Why real life is the best “video game” for people with ADHD
I’m happy to say that I haven’t played video games in at least 3 years.
Someone recently invited me over to play Mario Kart drinking games, and I just couldn’t do it (even though it sounded pretty tempting).
Now, instead of playing video games, I’d rather connect with people in real life, spend time in nature, help others, travel the world, write books, and have amazing life experiences.
Maybe I’m just being overly ambitious to make up for lost time. I don’t know.
But, my gut instinct is that real life is the greatest video game of all.
When you’re 80 years old, and you’re on your death bed, are you going to be happy about any amount of time that you spent playing video games?
I’ve been working on my regret minimization framework lately (since I’ve been thinking about mortality) – and I’m working hard to eliminate anything from my life that doesn’t help me achieve my life vision.
I’m in the process of eliminating or reducing my intake of:
- Junk food
- Negative thoughts / beliefs
- Negative people
- Time-wasting activities
- Video games
Here’s a relevant quote from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (courtesy of Inc.com):
“I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have,'” explains Bezos. “I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way it was an incredibly easy decision.”
Which habits will you regret spending time on when you’re 80 years old?
My gut feeling is that any amount of time spent playing video games will come back to haunt you and me.
You might not feel this way. And that’s totally fine.
But, my goal with this article is to help you find better ways to spend your time.
Real life is the greatest video game of all. Because, the odds of you being born in a first world country during a peaceful time in history are incredibly small. And yet, here you are. You’ve already beaten the odds and “won” the game of life.
The fact that you’re alive during this incredible time in history is just amazing.
So, please be considerate before spending your precious, limited time on this Earth playing video games.
You have the opportunity to spend your free time building relationships with people in real life, creating awesome memories, having fun, traveling the world, and helping other people.
Which path will you choose?
Just think about what your future 80-year-old-self would tell you to do today.
The best alternatives to video games for people with ADHD
While I generally don’t recommend video games to people with ADHD, I’m still a big fan of playing games and having fun.
Life is short. I want you to have as much fun as possible.
So, here are some of the best alternatives to video games for people with ADHD:
While writing is my art of choice, I’m also interested in painting, drawing, making music, and all other art forms.
I’m an artist at heart, and many people with ADHD have the same exact creative energy that I feel every day.
What if you spent 15 minutes per day learning how Photoshop works rather than playing video games?
After a year or two, you would probably have a fun and profitable skill that could replace your day job.
If you enjoy going to the gym (and working out solo), that’s completely fine.
But, playing sports is even more exciting than going to the gym, because sports involve interacting with other people.
Best of all, you can play sports at any age.
If you’re an adult, I recommend volleyball, tennis, water polo, or swimming.
If you’re a little younger, I recommend ice hockey or soccer.
People with ADHD usually do best with intense, action-packed team sports. We like chaos.
However, in my experience, ADHD doesn’t work as well with individual sports like golf. It’s incredibly difficult for people with ADHD to concentrate for four hours (which is the amount of time required to play 18 holes of golf).
Useful documentaries or movies
There are going to be times in your life when you just want to veg out, and not do anything even remotely productive.
There’s definitely nothing wrong with that.
But, what if you could entertain yourself and learn something useful at the same time?
I have a subscription to Netflix and an Amazon Fire Stick (available on Amazon) because I love learning about people’s life stories.
When I’m tired or just feeling burnt out, I watch documentaries on Netflix, because I can have fun and learn something useful.
Here are some awesome documentaries that are worth checking out:
> Fat Sick and Nearly Dead – This is a must-watch documentary on how improving your health will change your life for the best
> Bigger Stronger Faster – This is the best documentary on the American cultural phenomenon of always playing to win
> The Founder – While The Founder is technically a drama / history movie, it’s based on the real life story of Ray Kroc, who turned McDonald’s into a global fast food empire
Most people listen to podcasts while they’re already doing something.
For example, you might listen to a podcast while you’re exercising, cleaning your house, or cooking a nice meal.
Again, podcasts are a form of entertainment and education. I owe much of my (limited) knowledge to podcasts.
Here are some of the best podcast episodes that I’ve listened to recently:
> Joe Rogan interviews Billy Corgan, who is the lead singer from Smashing Pumpkins (you’ll hear some unbelievable insights about the “real” music industry)
> Joe Rogan interviews Paul Stamets, who is a mycologist / mushroom expert (this podcast episode is absolutely mind-blowing)
> Tim Ferriss interviews Michael Gervais, an elite sports psychologist who deeply understands how to overcome anxiety, stress, and worry
Overall, I don’t really have a problem with video games.
I have a problem with the never-ending amount of time that people are tempted to waste while playing video games.
When you have ADHD, it’s especially easy to fall victim to a subtle video game habit. And if you aren’t careful, a small video game habit can spiral into something that resembles full-blown video game addiction.
Fortunately, in the beautiful modern age that we live in, you have access to an abundance of video game alternatives, such as:
- Artistic outlets (like writing, painting, drawing, or making music)
- Useful documentaries or movies
At the very least, I hope this article helps you find better ways to spend your time.
At best, you’ll save yourself and your family members from wasting hundreds or even thousands of hours playing video games, and allocate that time towards something incredibly more productive.