A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests too much digital media time may increase ADHD symptoms in teens. A young person uses their mobile device. A new study from the University of Southern California found that ADHD among teens could be linked to excessive digital media use. In 2014 scientists at the University of Southern California, led by Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine and psychology and director of the USC Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, embarked on a two-year study to discover whether the amount and frequency of digital media usage among teens was associated with the occurrence of ADHD. They found that teens who used digital media the most were twice as likely to develop new ADHD symptoms over two years than teens who used social media the least.
MIAMI – Could teenagers suffer symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after engaging in excessive smartphone use? A new study out Tuesday says digital overload could be linked to a "modest" but significant rise in new ADHD behaviors, offering a warning to parents about the potential dangers of too much screen time. The findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association were based on nearly 2,600 Los Angeles teens who answered survey questions over a two-year period -- making it one of the largest and longest studies on the topic to date. The more social media, streaming video, text messaging, music downloads or online chats they engaged with, the more likely they were to report symptoms like difficulty organizing and completing tasks, or trouble remaining still. About 10 percent of youths who said they commonly used digital media platforms frequently showed new ADHD symptoms over the study period, said the report.
Most teens today own a smartphone and go online every day, and about a quarter of them use the internet "almost constantly," according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center. Now a study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests that such frequent use of digital media by adolescents might increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). "It's one of the first studies to look at modern digital media and ADHD risk," says psychologist Adam Leventhal, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and an author of the study. When considered with previous research showing that greater social media use is associated with depression in teens, the new study suggests that "excessive digital media use doesn't seem to be great for [their] mental health," he adds. Previous research has shown that watching television or playing video games on a consul put teenagers at a slightly higher risk of developing ADHD behaviors.
If we're being honest, it's damn near impossible to stay focused when the internet is at our fingertips. There's always one more notification to read, one more deal to be had, one more like to chase. While some experts have suspected that this kind of instant feedback and gratification might negatively affect young minds, a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests such connectivity comes at a worrisome cost by increasing ADHD symptoms in teens who use digital media at a high rate. When researchers surveyed 2,587 high school students in a prospective, longitudinal study, they found that teens who engaged in 14 different digital media activities multiple times a day had increased odds of developing ADHD symptoms. The activities included checking social media sites, texting, online chatting, and posting one's own photos, videos, blogs, or status updates.
It's easy to think the world is suffering from full-blown technology addiction. We read daily headlines about how social media platforms threaten our mental health, our relationships, and even democratic society itself. We hear smartphone addiction is the latest scourge sweeping the nation's youth, and we even see tech leaders like Chris Hughes, who co-founded Facebook, publicly call for the break-up of the firm he created because of its addictive content and features. It certainly seems like "technology addiction" is a real condition and that it is everywhere. But the truth is a little less black and white.