Mental Health Mondays: Study Finds Link Between Heavy Social Media & ADHD

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a statistically significant link between frequent social media use and Attention-Deficit/Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD).

The study, conducted by the University of Southern California, followed 2,800 high school students over the course of two years. Those chosen to participate had no previous association with ADHD. Scientists found that those with a higher social media use were 53% more likely to experience new ADHD symptoms.

ADHD symptoms include trouble with focus and attention, a hyperactive mood, and impulsive actions. The American Psychiatric Association estimates 2% of adults have ADHD, while 5% of children are affected by the disorder.

We spoke to one of our psychiatrists, Dr. Dana Kober, about ADHD.

How is it treated?

It is most effectively treated with ADHD medications, which can be prescribed by a psychiatrist, primary care doctor or a pediatrician. Patients can also benefit from behavioral therapy.

What do you tell patients who are afraid of treating ADHD with medication?

We have a back and forth discussion about their specific concerns. We talk about the short- and long-term problems of untreated ADHD and the possible side effects of medication. ADHD can negatively affect school and work performance, and relationships with friends and family. The affected person can also act impulsively and get into trouble. But this can be turned around if ADHD is treated.

What should you do if you or your child may have ADHD?

Adults should talk to their primary care doctor or see a psychiatrist. For your children, talk to their teacher about classroom behavior, and see their pediatrician or a child psychiatrist.

What strategies can parents use to help their ADHD kid get focused and organized?

A good place to start is to give the child one thing to do at a time and have visual reminders at home. I also recommend reading “Organizing the Disorganized Child,” “Smart but Scattered,” or “Learning between the Lines.”