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Do Teens on Screens Have a Higher Risk of ADHD?

High school students who reported high-frequency engagement with digital media had a slightly higher risk of ADHD symptoms after two years.
Do Teens on Screens Have a Higher Risk of ADHD?
Phone app, exercise, playlist,

Are techy teenagers putting themselves at risk of ADHD? The answer, according to a new study published in JAMA, is maybe (JAMA, July 17, 2018).

Social Media and the Risk of ADHD:

There is a small but significant association between kids who engage in high-frequency digital media use and a subsequent diagnosis of attention difficulties. The study recruited students from ten Los Angeles County high schools and lasted two years. More than 3,000 youngsters in 10th and 11th grade participated in the research. They answered questions about their digital media use at the beginning of the study and periodically throughout the study. They also rated themselves on 18 symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those who reported lots of high-frequency activity on digital media were about 11 percent more likely to report new ADHD symptoms by the end of the study.

Does Digital Media Actually Increase the Risk of ADHD?

The researchers acknowledge that it is not possible to tell from these data whether digital media use contributes causally to ADHD or whether young people who may be more prone to attention problems might also be slightly more drawn to high-frequency digital media activities.

Learn More:

You may be interested in our interview with Dr. James Greenblatt on how to treat ADHD naturally. Other interviews that may interest you include Show 986 with Dr. Sanford Newmark and Show 1037 with Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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