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This iPhone and iPad game can be legally prescribed to help kids with ADHD

EndeavorRx ADHD
(Image credit: Shutterstock/@Nattakorn_Maneerat)

One week video games are bad for you, the next they’re good – today, a video game has been legally approved to help with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which means they’re good again, right?

In a landmark decision from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), doctors are now able to prescribe an iPhone and iPad game for kids between ages eight and 12 years old who suffer from ADHD (thanks, The Verge). Note, then, that this only applies in the US, and not the rest of the world. 

The game is called EndeavorRx and was developed by Akili Interactive. It doesn’t look like much, admittedly, but the game underwent seven years of clinical trials that studied over 600 children to determine whether the game could actually help with ADHD. And it turns out, it could.

Play your medicine

“We’re proud to make history today with FDA’s decision," said Eddie Martucci, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Akili Interactive. “With EndeavorRx, we’re using technology to help treat a condition in an entirely new way as we directly target neurological function through medicine that feels like entertainment. With today’s decision by FDA, we’re excited to offer families a first-of-its-kind non-drug treatment option and take an important first step toward our goal to help all people living with cognitive issues.”

Check out the game in action below:

A third of children who played EndeavorRx for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention”. Common side effects included frustration (get good, kid) and headaches, which is obviously minor compared to what most prescription drugs can cause.

Game on

Despite gaining approval by the FDA, the developer themselves – who used their own doctors for the trials – disclose at the bottom of the study that their conclusion results “are not sufficient to suggest that AKL-T01 should be used as an alternative to established recommended treatments for ADHD.” That doesn’t mean the iPhone game won’t help, though – it’s another option for doctors to try if they’re hesitant to prescribe any medication. 

We know that video games can help us stay fit, let us socialize and compete for huge sums of prize money if you're into esports, but this is the first time we’ve seen a video game gain recognition as a medical treatment.

EndeavorRx isn’t available yet, but the developer told The Verge that a limited number of families are currently enrolled. You can visit the company’s website and join a waitlist to stay informed if you’d like to find out more.