ADHD Symptoms Linked to Digital Media Usage

Manila Bulletin, July 18, 2018 | Go to article overview

ADHD Symptoms Linked to Digital Media Usage


By Francine Ciasico

A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that too much usage by teenagers of digital media may develop symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, most commonly known as ADHD.

People diagnosed with ADHD have short attention span, portray hyper-activity, and may execute impulsivity.

According to licensed clinical psychologist and professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine Adam Leventhal, "ADHD's been linked with substance use disorders during adulthood and even involvement in the criminal justice system, and the symptoms are distressing for the person affected."

"If we can identify any potential risk factor that is implicated in this disorder then that's important, especially ones that are modifiable like digital media use," Leventhal, who is also the lead author of the study, added.

The research

2,587 high school students in Los Angeles, California who do not have symptoms of ADHD participated in the study. Their ages range from 15 to 16 years old.

The students were surveyed based on how frequent they engage in 14 different digital media activities which include texting, video chatting, reading online content, streaming videos or music, playing online games, and posting photos, videos, or status updates.

Ten out of the 14 activities were directly associated with ADHD symptoms such as having trouble finishing tasks and lacking concentration or focus.

The survey lasted for two years, which was measured every six months.

At the end of the study, the researchers found out that the higher the frequency the students engage with digital media usage, the higher the odds of having ADHD symptoms.

About ten percent of students who used digital media multiple times per day exhibited symptoms of ADHD within the given study period.

"One of the things we noticed in the study was that the association between digital media and prevalence of ADHD symptoms was persistent across the entire follow-up period," Leventhal explained. …

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