Can Excessive Gadget Use be Linked to ADHD?


correlation of excessive gadget use to ADHD / Photo By Leszek Czerwonka via Shutterstock


A lot of parents and people, in general, say that the current generation of teens’ constant use of mobile devices has left them unable to focus on other things. But is that truly the case? For now, though, the answer is more on the “maybe.”

A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has linked certain Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in teens to frequent usage of gadgets. Out of 2,587 high school students analyzed and studied over two years, researchers found that those who use more than one type of digital media several times a day are almost twice as likely to exhibit signs of ADHD-like symptoms compared to their peers.

As tempting it may seem to limit the use of non-essential devices by teens, it isn’t that straightforward as it may seem. The researchers noted that this study doesn’t necessarily establish a causal link between ADHD and device use. They pointed out that it’s difficult to tell how many of those teens already exhibited ADHD-like symptoms even before the study and simply funneled them into the devices that they use.

And while the symptoms were supposed to be self-reported, it is quite possible that some withheld the truth of their habit out of feelings of guilt and shame. The scientists took care to be very specific with the results, that the twice-as-likely figure was “statistically significant,” but the connection was modest at best.

Despite this, the study suggested that parents and guardians may want to discuss limitations on device use. Not necessarily a hard stop to them, but encouraging healthier habits and finding the root problem to the constant use of these devices. Whether or not mobile devices or gadgets correlate with ADHD, they can also keep the associated behavior at a minimum.