Technology and ADHD

More screen time….. But at what cost?

Technology has been advancing at such a fast rate. With these advancements, we see improvements in medicine, doing simple household chores (dishes anyone?) and in a vast array of other activities (purchasing tickets, making reservations etc.) 

We also now use our mobile phone devices, computers and watch TV more than ever before. Children are also part of this trend and studies are reporting how much time children spend on the TV or computers. One study reported that more than 70% of children in the U.S, ages 8-18, have TVs in their bedroom.

A report from 2009 found that children, ages 2-5, spend more than 32 hours per week watching TV. A 2013 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatricians, stated that children ages 8-19 spend up to 8 hours a day on media and older children can spend up to 11 hours on media.

TV and its effect on attention

It’s so easy for a parent to let a child sit in front of a TV but doing it excessively may cause impairments in attention. Some studies are reporting that early TV exposure can be associated with trouble attending. However, there are some reports which say that TV has no association with attention and symptoms of ADHD. One study with kindergarten children found that TV exposure and first-grade symptoms of ADHD were not related.

While there are arguments for both sides, there are a plethora of anecdotal/ research reports of how attention and TV are related.  Sitting in front of a computer or TV all day can affect children with their ability to concentrate.

Children are still molding and developing and need to be interacting with their environment. To sit in front of a screen for hours a day takes them away from this outside stimuli when they are supposed to be developing and learning.

ADHD and Technology

Children with ADHD are also likely to spend a lot of time in front of a screen. People with ADHD can be EVEN more susceptible to spending too much time with technology. ADHD makes it hard to concentrate/ focus on boring tasks but something like the TV/ computer is constantly entertaining. People with ADHD actually have the ability to ‘hyperfocus’ when they are attented and interested (remain on one task and nothing else). 

People with ADHD have trouble delaying gratification and media offers constant and frequent rewards. We cannot say that screens or technology cause ADHD. People with ADHD may be more attracted to an exciting video game compared to someone who does not have ADHD.

ADHD has a high rate of co-morbidity with internet addiction.  Many people with ADHD  excessively use the internet or play video games. Some suggested theories were that constant updates from social media sites and cell phones entice people with ADHD, who are easily distracted.

Use your screens in moderation 🙂

In general, spending too much time in front of screens can cause an individual to shirk on responsibilities and not be present in relationships. Especially for people with ADHD, screens can distract people from accomplishing things and completing tasks like homework or laundry. 

 TV and social media are good in moderation, and every so often a Netflix binge with a bag of chips is a necessity. But be careful because excessive use can cause too much of a distraction!