“ADHD’s been linked with substance use disorders during adulthood in addition to even involvement inside the criminal justice system, in addition to the symptoms are distressing for the person affected,” Leventhal said. “If we can identify any potential risk factor in which is usually implicated in in which disorder then in which’s important, especially ones in which are modifiable like digital media use.”
‘The association … was persistent’
The brand new study involved 2,587 students in 10 high schools across Los Angeles County, California. The students, who had no significant symptoms of ADHD at the study’s start, were 15 to 16 years old.
The students participated inside the study over a two-year period, beginning in fall 2014, with follow-up data collection in spring 2015, fall 2015, spring 2016, in addition to fall 2016.
At each of those time points, the students completed a form in which measured ADHD symptoms, including nine inattention symptoms in addition to nine hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms.
At the start of the study, the students completed surveys in which they reported how frequently they engaged in 14 digital media activities, such as social networking, texting, playing digital games, online shopping, video chatting, reading online content or streaming videos or music.
In each survey response, the students indicated whether their recent digital media use was high-frequency, meaning many times per day, or at different frequency levels, such as zero times a week, once or twice a week or once or twice a day.
After analyzing the self-reported symptoms in addition to digital media survey responses, the researchers found in which each additional high-frequency engagement in a digital media activity was associated with higher odds of having ADHD symptoms at each follow-up point.
The researchers found in which, on average, 9.5% of the students who reported engaging in seven high-frequency digital media activities reported ADHD symptoms, in addition to 10.5% of those who reported engaging in all 14 high-frequency digital media activities reported ADHD symptoms.
By comparison, only 4.6% of the students who reported not engaging in any of the digital media activities also reported ADHD symptoms throughout the study.
“Those percentages — like the 4.6% — reflect the average rates across the four different follow-ups,” Leventhal said. “So one of the things we noticed inside the study was in which the association between digital media in addition to prevalence of ADHD symptoms was persistent across the entire follow-up period.”
The researchers described the association between higher frequency of digital media use in addition to subsequent ADHD symptoms as “statistically significant however modest.”
The study had some limitations, including in which only a specific age of students was included inside the study in addition to the students were based only inside the Los Angeles area. More research is usually needed to determine whether similar findings would likely emerge among a more geographically diverse group of teenagers across a wider age range.
Also, the study only showed an association between modern digital media use in addition to subsequent ADHD symptoms. More research is usually needed to determine whether in which relationship is usually causal or reflects reverse causation. For instance, genetics or environmental influences may increase both ADHD symptoms in addition to digital media access or use. Income in addition to media use among parents also can influence media use among children.
The study also was based on self-reports of digital media use in addition to ADHD symptoms.
“We didn’t have clinicians involved in our study to actually provide a diagnosis,” Leventhal said, however not everyone would likely call in which a limitation.
‘The results must be understood as tentative’
He said in which looking at symptoms instead of diagnoses was one strength of the research.
“Even without a clinical diagnosis of ADHD, diminished attentional capacity is usually associated with poorer function both in childhood in addition to in subsequent adulthood,” said Christakis, who was not involved inside the research.
“We know in which having a shorter attention span, regardless of whether or not you have a diagnosis of ADHD, is usually bad,” he said.
A shorter attention span, or distractibility, is usually a “cardinal feature of ADHD,” Christakis said.
With constant digital media use, “you can create a habit of mind where your brain is usually constantly seeking something more interesting, something more stimulating, because in which’s always available — in addition to in which leads to distractibility,” he said. “The biggest problem children with ADHD have is usually, they’re easily distracted.”
“First, though the analyses are done well they demonstrate a very smaller correlation between digital media use in addition to non-clinical measure of the ADHD symptoms. in which means the study is usually a proof of concept in which tells us we need very large samples when we design future studies because the possible effects are extremely smaller,” said Przybylski, who was not involved inside the study.
“Second, the study doesn’t measure either digital media use or ADHD directly. For both the study relies on survey responses provided by the student in question. in which is usually not clear if teachers or parents would likely rate the children similarly or if the self-reported measure of digital screen use is usually correlated with either actual behaviour or higher quality survey items,” he said. “Finally, because in which was an exploratory study, instead of a registered or confirmatory study, the results must be understood as tentative.”
The digital media guidelines doctors recommend
“With more timely digital media research, parents may feel more confident inside the evidence underlying recommendations for how to manage the onslaught of media in their households,” Radesky wrote.
Radesky wrote in her editorial in which “although not directly addressed by in which study, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for parent involvement in their adolescent’s media use — including discussions about prosocial uses of media, digital citizenship, misinformation, in addition to persuasion awareness — are relevant to the cognitive in addition to emotional reactions to digital media of adolescents.”