top of page

NPR: JAMA study links smart phones to ADHD development

July 17, 2018, NPR: More Screen Time For Teens Linked To ADHD Symptoms 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. But less is known about the impact of computers, tablets and smartphones. … The study followed 2,587 10th graders in schools in Los Angeles county over two years. The teens showed no symptoms of ADHD at the beginning of the study. By the end, teens with more frequent digital media use were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD. … By and large, students who frequently used six or more activities had a higher likelihood of developing ADHD symptoms. … In other words, teens who were high frequency users of seven or 14 digital media platforms were more than twice as likely to develop ADHD symptoms than teens who did not use any media platform at a high frequency rate, notes Leventhal. The study doesn't prove causation — it finds an association. Still, because the study involved students who did not show symptoms in the beginning, the results give some cause for concern, Leventhal says. "To have 10-ish percent [of the high frequency media users] have the occurrence of new symptoms is fairly high," he says….


bottom of page