Child’s Play: Rising Rate Of ADHD Diagnosis Parallel With Youth Mobile Device Use

young African American boy sitting in kitchen looking at cell phone
Remember the uproar on video games causing behavioral problems? Well, mobile devices like cell phones and tablets may be the new video games. As technology makes entertainment and information more convenient, the attention spans of children are getting shorter at an alarming rate. In many cases, these short attention spans are a sign of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The feeling of putting down a mobile electronic device and dealing with the real world has been compared to stepping off of a moving walkway at the airport. Everything just seems, well… slower.
In the past two decades, ADHD has become the most common behavioral disorder among children.
“The brains of children adapt to that speed, so when they’re forced to work in the slower pace of life, they often struggle to pay attention because it’s less stimulating and rewarding,” said Dimitri Christakis, the George Adkins professor in a Time magazine interview.
There is no single conclusive test to diagnosis ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). But, it’s hard to ignore that the rate of ADHD diagnosis has increased almost parallel to the ever-ascending rate of children who use mobile devices. According to a study conducted by the family advocacy organization Common Sense Media, 38% of children under two-years-old use mobile devices. This number increases to 72% by the age of eight.
Over six million children have been diagnosed with ADHD in the U.S. In the past 10 years, ADHD diagnoses increased by 50% among children. A NewsOne article reports that Black boys are diagnosed with ADHD at a higher rate than any other group of students in the U.S. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children spend around seven and a half hours starring at mobile devices.
Children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are likely to experience a host of symptoms, including mood swings, anger, inability to focus, depression, anxiety and boredom.
One study from Yale School of Medicine showed that neurobehavioral tendencies among young children may be linked to the radio-frequency radiation received during pregnancy. A study performed on pregnant mice proved that children who were exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy showed higher risk of ADHD.
Because the ADHD diagnosis is based on a physician’s observation the child’s behavior instead of a conclusive test, there have been many cases of misdiagnosis. Some psychiatrists, like Peter R. Breggin, advise improving parental and teacher involvement before filling a prescription for a disorder that may not be there. In some cases, the symptoms can be related to other disorders or no disorder at all.
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Parents are encouraged to limit screen time and increase family, or quality, time before coming to the conclusion that their child may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactive disorder.