Ask the ADD Doctor: Are all screens created equal?

There is no escaping technology. Between our smartphones, tablets and computers to our television sets, we are all spending increasingly large amounts of time in front of a screen. Not all technology is bad, of course. At the Sachs Center, a leader in ADHD testing for adults and children and innovative treatments such as neurofeedback for ADHD, we use the power of today’s technology in a variety of ways, ranging from record keeping to various forms of ADD testing. We have even used technology to create a free crash course on ADD in adults.

But when it comes to the amount of time you and your family spend in front of a screen, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

Our society is playing catch up in terms of researching what the impact of all that screen time is. You are probably already struggling to find enough hours in the day to do all the things on your to do list, without adding anything more – especially something as time-consuming as reviewing what studies have been conducted. So how are you supposed to know where to draw the line?

If ADHD testing has revealed that your son or daughter does indeed suffer from attention deficit/hyper activity disorder, it is especially important that you monitor your child’s screen time. 

Fortunately, George Sachs, PsyD – a leading ADD doctor who, as a sufferer himself, has a unique perspective on ADD in adults – has reviewed the research for you and can help guide you in the management of your family’s use of technology. 

For children 6 to 13, Dr. Sachs recommends:

  • No screen time during the school week – not including time spent on the computer or tablet doing homework.
  • No more than two hours total screen time on the weekends. Again, this applies to games, entertainment, texting, etc.. not to school work.
  • No cellphones until a child reaches age 14 or is a high school freshman.

Dr. Sachs, who has tested positive on an ADHD test for adults, tells parents that impulsivity is at an all-time high during the pre-teen/middle school years. Giving a child in this age group – especially a child who is in need of psychoeducational testing in NYC or neuropsychological testing in New York – a cellphone will only put them at increased risk of using it inappropriately.

“Some parents say their middle school child needs a phone for safety reasons or to fit in with other kids. I think it’s important to build trust and extend independence during these years. So cut the cord,” he says. “If you absolutely must know where your child is at all times, then consider buying a smart watch with GPS that allows the child to receive and send texts or make limited phone calls in case of emergency.”

Ask the ADD Doctor: Are all screens created equal?

For teenagers, Dr. Sachs recommends: 

  • No computer games, video games or iPad gaming during the week.
  • Limit screen time on the weekends for those purposes to two hours.

A leading ADD doctor in New York with three convenient locations, Dr. Sachs knows there is only so much a parent can do. “Taking a phone away from a teen is nearly impossible. As long as your teen is using his or her phone responsibly, I think it’s fine for teens to have their phones during the week,” he says. “But, limit teen phone use to one hour an evening, with the phone shut off by a certain time every night.”

The experts in ADHD testing and treatment at the Sachs Center also recommend that parents use functions on popular sites and devices to regulate a child’s use of technology and social media.  “Many parents complain that all the school assignments are on the computer and Facebook is one click away for their child, offering hours of distraction from homework,” Dr. Sachs says. “That is why for all children and teens, I suggest regulating technology—with technology. You can use software to monitor or block websites.” 

For more tools to help you manage ADD in adults and children, including neurofeedback for ADHD or the Dragon Masters Social Skills Group program, call the Sachs Center at 646-807-8900, text us at 646-418-5035 or send an email to