Posted on Aug 05, 2018, 7 p.m.
It would seem these days that people have had their phones surgically attached to them, and it’s not just teens, have you ever wondered what all that time using them is doing to their brains? One study published in JAMA has, and suggests that it is causing ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Digital media use of upwards of 2,500 students without symptoms of ADHD were studied. Subjects were asked how often the engage in 14 digital media activities on a scale of never to many times per day. Activities including things such as: texting, browsing/viewing images/videos online, checking social media, streaming/downloading movies, playing online games alone, playing online games with others, posting on social media, sharing others’ posts, reading blogs/articles online, video chatting, and online shopping/browsing.
Subjects were checked in on at regular intervals over a 2 year period for digital media use and symptoms of developing ADHD. It was found that 4.6% of the subjects that didn’t report high frequency use had developed symptoms of ADHD by the end of the study; 9.5% who had reported 7 high frequency activities had developed symptoms; and 10.5% had developed symptoms who had reported frequent activities in all 14. According to the researchers frequent digital media use increases risks of developing ADHD symptoms by 10%. Risk was higher for male subjects than female, subjects with previous history of depression or getting into trouble had even higher risk.
Traditional media such as TV in the living room digital media is not as convenient as compared to digital which has a faster pace and is more stimulating, causing people to get sucked in, younger students are at an age when they try to develop social identities and look for social connection which is just a few clicks away if only online. It is possible digital media brought ot ADHD symptoms previously undiagnosed. Environmental and genetic factors leading to high frequency digital media use have some of the same in common with and leading to ADHD.
Effect was small, displaying symptoms does not mean a person has ADHD, even so results should not be dismissed. ADHD can have negative effects on performance and have lifelong consequences which could lead things such as substance abuse or legal problems among others. Device addiction is a real issue, and there are serious concerns that digital device use interferes with learning to read social cues. There are even studies suggesting some of the neurological effects of low level microwave irradiation being mediated by endogenous opioids in the brain, and NTP study showing evidence of carcinogenesis, among others showing negative effects.
Maybe it’s time people take notice of warnings and really set boundaries and limits to their use, especially among children. Even small steps can make a difference such as no devices while eating and none in the rooms at bedtime. Younger generations are missing a wonderful world full of digital free experiences a few simple steps outdoors, more so they need to interact with other people in real time away from digital devices, we all do.
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