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Are Screens More Detrimental to Students with ADHD

When we see our kids struggling and we aren’t able to get them back on track, we start to lose any semblance of control we thought we had.

Are Screens More Detrimental to Students with ADHD

Screen use is up! Well, that’s not news. We’ve been hearing it a lot. Especially as we round the corner from a worldwide pandemic where our only way to work, go to school, or connect has been THROUGH SCREENS! 

 

But what about our kids with ADHD or other forms of neurodivergence? Could screen use be affecting them at a greater rate? As parents, we worry about the effects screens are having on their mental health and well-being. Especially when they’re already struggling in other areas.

 

Having two kids of my own, it’s a serious stressor for me. It doesn’t take much to scare yourself. All you have to do is pull out that little palm-sized screen in your pocket and google it. But I implore you NOT to do that. It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? We worry about the effects of screen time on our kids health so we pull out a screen to investigate.

 

So as parents, how can we know the risks without letting our fears and anxieties take over? Find reputable experts to follow! Don’t rely on unknown sources or google, seek out solid facts and knowledge and then create a plan to manage your family’s screen time in a way that fits everyone.

 

Someone we collaborate with and trust is Dr. Joel Niggs, Director of the OHSU Center of ADHD Research. Dr. Niggs and OHSU conduct ground-breaking studies to identify causes of and develop treatments for ADHD. In this article by Dr. Niggs: “Update on ADHD and Screen Media Use” he shares some facts about screens and their effects on students with ADHD:

 

Here are a few key takeaways I gleaned from the article: 

 

  • Screens are more impactful on the development of very young children than they are on older kids – like teenagers and young adults
  • Focusing less on screen use itself and more on the type of media being consumed is most beneficial to your students well being. For example, try to monitor violent imagery
  • If other healthy steps can be taken, media use itself is not a major driver of ADHD problems.

 

So basically…is screen time having a bigger effect on kids with ADHD versus those without? No. Do screens sometimes prevent us from doing other healthy activities like going outside, connecting, and participating in hobbies? Yes, but that applies to everyone not just people with ADHD!

 

So as a parent, don’t feel like you have to be this superstar that eliminates screens from your home while keeping everyone happy about it. It just isn’t realistic in today’s world. Based on my takeaways from Dr. Niggs, a better effort would be to monitor content consumed via screen use. Things like violent video games, reality TV, social media, and other content. This can actually be done through wifi settings and even our phone plans. 

 

If you have a teenager, have an open conversation with them about what they believe is fair. Tell them why you think balance is important and how introducing heathy habits will be beneficial for them and the things they care about. Use the bottom-up approach to make them feel heard because teenagers have a strong desire to be independent. It’s biological, according to a research study conducted by Stanford Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Stanford Bio-X, and the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute. So, making them part of the solution can help diminish resistance.

 

If you need help with creating boundaries around screen use like using the bottom up approach or creating extrinsic and intrinsic rewards to encourage balance, check out our Parents Academic Success Course or read some of our other articles like Setting Boundaries for Student Success or 5 Transdiagnostic ADHD Intervention Strategies. 

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