Excessive screen time increases the risk of developing ADHD symptoms in teens, a new study suggests. Adolescents who spend many hours using digital media show an expansion in odds of developing symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This new study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA calls the need for more research to discover whether digital media use causes symptoms of the commonly known ADHD disorder.
It analyzed ADHD symptoms in a group of more than 2,500 Los Angeles-area high school students. Researchers from USC, UCLA, and UC San Diego found that students who performed multiple digital media activities a day were reported a growing number of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
However, the link between digital media use and ADHD symptoms in teens was modest. But the risk could not be denied. On average, 9.5% of the adolescents reported engaging in seven high-frequency digital media activities and only 4.6% said they don’t spend time on digital media activities.
“With constant digital media use, “you can create a habit of mind where your brain is constantly seeking something more interesting, something more stimulating, because it’s always available — and that leads to distractibility,” said Christakis, who was not involved in the research. “The biggest problem children with ADHD have is, they’re easily distracted.”
ADHD symptoms include hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity or restlessness that is more severe, frequent or exhausting than normal.
“Most of the time, a lifestyle change that halves the risk of a poor outcome is more than worth undertaking,” said San Diego State University psychologist Jean M. Twenge. “In the annals of disease prevention research, the vast majority of interventions are less effective.”
Sarah Buscaino is a seasoned journalist with 10 years experience as a reporter and investigative journalist. While studying journalism in Toronto, Sarah got her break as an intern at CITY TV. As a contributor to Island Daily Tribune, Sara covers municipal and provincial politics.