Can Overstimulation Lead to ADD?

My sister and her husband have a 1½-year-old toddler who seems healthy in all respects. During a recent stay at their place, however, I watched the boy playing with his toys and could not help but wonder if he is being overstimulated. FTR, my sister is affluent and she and her husband can afford to give my nephew anything he might possibly want or need. Consequently, they do. And so does his extended family. His room looks like a toy store, as does the family room.

When I gently suggested that too many toys might possibly = overstimulation which itself might possibly contribute to attention problems (i.e. ADD) down the road, she said no research exists to show that having too many toys is potentially damaging. To the contrary, she said that it sparks creativity and thinking. I responded that the last generation of kids should therefore be the most creative and deep thinking in history, yet I’ve seen no signs of this. I then observed–but wisely did not say–that her son never plays with a single toy more than a minute or two, before moving on to the next toy. (At least, that is his history around me.)

Is there any research that points to too many toys as a function of future attention or other developmental problems?

Basically, I’m wondering how children can learn to concentrate when they are constantly moving from toy to toy to toy. The ability to focus (and sustain one’s focus) is central to many development milestones, both inside academia and out.

Without getting into GD or IMHO, has it been persuasively argued that having lots of toys tends to spark creativity? If anything, I would argue the opposite. To wit, that having few toys sparks creativity, as a child’s mind is forced to improvise.

Actually, some theorists speculate that it could be a sensory-deprived environment which is more likely to contribue to ADHD than a stimulating one. Nothing to focus much attention on, no practice focusing it, the synapses and chemicals needed to focus get under-developed.

Much more work needs to be done.

BTW, it’s pretty normal for an 18 month old to have a short attention span, and go thru a lot of different toys in only a few minutes.


Maybe sensory deprivation and sensory over stimulation are just different sides of the same coin, perhaps moderation is the best road to take.