As if there wasn’t enough to worry about when it comes to the media and your child’s wellbeing, there’s now another factor to take into consideration before leaving your child alone with the iPad. A study in the Journal of American Medical Association has linked Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder with the amount of media your child consumes.
As a parent, you’ve probably heard about whether or not video games cause ADHD. This study, however, found that increased screen time in general can increase your child’s chances of developing ADHD. The study followed more than 2,500 adolescents for approximately two years and asked them to self-report how much time they spent using digital media nad how frequent and/or severe their ADHD symptoms were. It found that students who consumped the most digital media often had the highest perceived severity and frequency of symptoms.
“It’s not so much the usage [of technology], but the way it changes our behavior and psychological patterns,” says Steven Schwartzberg, P.h.D., a pediatric neurologist at Healthcare Associates in Medicine PC. “In general, most of us are sleep deprived, with things like staying up all night playing video games taking a toll on our wellbeing.”
Because sleep deprivation can affect one’s attentiveness, it’s important to consider your kid’s sleeping patterns if you’re concerned about whether or not your child has ADHD because of their digital media usage.
Dr. Schwartzberg recommends limiting the amount of time spent on screens to one-hour intervals with 10-minute breaks in between. This means parents should monitor time spent using electron devices including computers, cell phones, and televisions, especially around bedtime when screen usage can cut into your child’s sleep.
“ADHD is a common condition that is usually over-diagnosed or misdiagnosed,” says Dr. Schwartzberg. “It requires a clinical diagnosis based on multiple symptoms. Just because a child is inattentive doesn’t mean he’s got ADHD. The challenge is sorting out the diagnosis based on the patient’s history and psychological and neurological testing.