Studies have found that the average amount of screen time for users ages 16 to 64 is over six and a half hours per day. For people with ADHD, excessive screen time doesn’t just reflect wasted time scrolling social media feeds or playing computer games. Screen time also has the potential to exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Learn more about how technology use can affect individuals with ADHD and get helpful tips for cutting back on your screen time.
Effects of Technology on ADHD Symptoms
There are a number of negative effects that can result from too much screen time and technology use. For people with ADHD, these effects can end up worsening their symptoms and making their condition more difficult to manage.
For example, too much screen time can disrupt your sleep. The light from the screen can actually reduce the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Unfortunately, many people with ADHD already struggle with sleep problems, so screen time can worsen this symptom significantly.
A lack of sleep from screen time can also create a ripple effect with other ADHD symptoms. Without deep sleep, the brain isn’t able to process and store information from the day, so it can compound the working memory deficits that many ADHDers are already dealing with.
Screen time is associated with higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which are relatively common among those with ADHD before you factor technology use into the equation. It can also shorten your attention span, which is especially challenging for those who struggle to maintain focus and avoid distractions.
Signs of Screen Addiction
Worried that you might be addicted to screens? This problem is becoming more common, and it’s especially harmful for people with ADHD if it triggers and worsens their symptoms. The following are some of the signs of screen addiction to watch out for:
- Feeling anxious when not able to access to screen
- Spending much more time than you intend to on your devices
- Neglecting responsibilities or relationships due to a preference for screen time
- Becoming irritable or angry when screen time is cut off
- Lying about the extent of your screen time
- Having intense urges to check social media, play video games, or interact with screens in other ways
Tips to Curb Screen Time
Regardless of whether you have a screen addiction, most of us are spending far too much time with our screens. If you want to cut back on the amount of time you devote to your devices, try these strategies for curbing screen time:
- Set a timer to limit how long you use your screens. A visual timer can be particularly helpful because it gives you a clear indication of how much time you have left.
- Turn off notifications. You may end up spending extra time with your screen when you get a ping for an email, text, or social media notification. Turn off those alerts and check them periodically throughout the day instead.
- Create screen-free zones. For example, you can put your phone out of reach when at the dinner table or in bed.
- Dive into other hobbies. There are a number of great hobbies for people with ADHD that can provide the entertainment and enjoyment you seek without staring at a screen for hours.
The Bright Spots of Screen Time for ADHD
Too much screen time is bad for your mental and physical health. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut it out completely. Instead, try to put the time you do spend in front of a screen to good use.
For people with ADHD, there are a few major upsides of the internet to consider. For some, it makes it easy to learn new things, whether that’s more information about a hobby or gaining a better understanding of your ADHD. In addition, going online is a great way to connect with other people who have ADHD and to stay in touch with family and friends.
Another major benefit of technology is increased access to ADHD care. With services like Done, people with this condition can get the care they need through convenient telehealth visits. Rather than having to wait months for an appointment or find solutions for obstacles like transportation, childcare, and time off from work, they can simply log on and see an ADHD clinician from any location at their convenience. It’s important to appreciate internet access as the great resource it can be while also working to minimize the negative effects of screen time.