Can ADHD be caused by too much technology?

August 13, 2018 11:00 am
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Technology has made a large impact on many aspects of our lives, especially on the younger generation. Due to the vibrant colours and interactive components of digital devices, it is not surprising that children today find joy in activities including gaming and interacting on social media. While technology may offer some benefits, there are many questions associated with the potential consequences of digital media, specifically it’s relation to Attention deficit Disorder (ADHD).

 Michael Manos, Ph.D. and the Head of the ADHD Center for Evaluation & Treatment at the Cleveland Clinic says that, “frequent use of tech affects how we behave and connect with one another”. Too much time spent on devices leads to less face-to-face communication, which may weaken our ability to interpret and use facial expressions, voice and body language. The ultimate question that many parents may be wondering (according to Cleveland Clinic’s article), is whether or not frequent use of technology can make children more prone to symptoms of ADHD, specifically whether children can be more distracted or have a reduced attention span.

 According to a recent study, it is certainly possible. 2587 high school students not diagnosed with ADHD took part in answering surveys regarding time spent on digital media, and the results were quite clear. Students that self-reported more frequent usage of technology were more likely to show habits of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, including having trouble organizing, completing tasks and sitting still. While Manos explains that ADHD is a genetic predisposition characterized by physical differences in the brain, individuals may develop symptoms similar to those of ADHD with an increased usage of technology.

 The problem itself is not the existence of digital media, but the fact that they require an excessive amount of attention. Every time you receive a notification, you feel inclined to respond immediately. In a situation where a student is learning and receives a notification on their cell phone, the student will likely turn their attention to their phone, which disrupts their learning.

 As Cleveland’s article suggests, exposure to digital media should be limited for everyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 3 and under should not be exposed to digital media, while school-aged children should not be exposed to more than one hour. For teens and parents, reasonable limits should be set, however individuals should be wary of how these may affect their relationships with others. With an increased amount of time on our digital devices, the quality of our interactions may decrease. Limiting our technology usage is truly a challenge for our generation, but it is definitely feasible. 

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This post was written by Allison Wong