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Does Social Media Cause ADHD?

More than three million American preteens and teenagers have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Boys develop ADHD more than twice as often as girls. If your teen is affected by the disorder, an ADHD treatment program can help. Teens with ADHD are more likely to drink and take drugs, so treatment for ADHD usually requires substance treatment as well. At Stonewater, we provide specialized care for teen boys affected by ADHD and substance use. For more information, call us today at 662.373.2828. The rise of social media use in the 21st century poses an interesting question regarding ADHD. Namely, can social media use cause the disorder?

What Is Social Media?

Social media is the term for any smartphone app or website that allows its users to:
  • Create various kinds of content
  • Share that content online with other people
  • Communicate with creators and other users of a given app or website
Today, more than 70% of all Americans use social media in one way or another. Among teenagers, that number jumps to roughly 90%. Girls use social media somewhat more often than boys.

Can Social Media Cause ADHD?

Many recent studies have examined the connection between social media use and ADHD risks. One large-scale, federally funded research took a comprehensive look at more than 2,500 teenagers. These teens were aged 15 and 16. They engaged in activities such as:
  • Visiting social media sites
  • Texting
  • Talking back and forth online
  • Downloading or streaming various kinds of media
The researchers who did the study asked all participants to self-report any symptoms of ADHD. The participants answered multiple times over two years. The researchers found that the teens who often used social media were more likely to report experiencing ADHD symptoms. In contrast, the teens who didn't use social media very often were less likely to report experiencing ADHD symptoms. There are a few potential explanations for these findings. Social media may use lead to more ADHD symptoms. Alternatively, it could be that teens who are already experiencing ADHD symptoms are more likely to turn to social media to cope. It's also possible that a third factor contributes to both social media use and ADHD symptoms. Further research is needed to understand better the relationship between social media use and ADHD symptoms.

Too Early to Understand Social Media's Impact on Teens?

Given findings like these, you might conclude that social media causes ADHD. However, that's not actually what studies show. Instead, researchers have found that social media use is associated with ADHD. What's the difference? An association means that two things tend to occur together. However, it doesn't mean one of those things directly causes the other. There could be many reasons teens who use social media experience a lot higher rates of ADHD. It will take further research to uncover exactly why this association exists.

Is Social Media Addiction and ADHD Related?

Some teens use social media constantly on a given day. This pattern of heavy use is sometimes known as social media addiction. Is there a connection between social media addiction and ADHD? Yes. But there is no evidence that one causes the other. There is also a connection between substance addiction and ADHD. ADHD does not cause addiction, and addiction does not cause ADHD. However, the two disorders often occur together. This combination of problems is an example of something called dual diagnosis.

Does Social Media Cause ADHD? Find Out More at Stonewater

Have more questions about social media use and ADHD? Talk to the professionals at Stonewater. We're happy to explain the links between social media and ADHD risks in more detail. If your teenage boy is affected by ADHD and addiction, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center can help. We feature a program specifically designed to treat both of these issues. All treatment plans are customized to fit the needs of the boys in our program. With our help, addiction and ADHD recovery are achievable goals. Call us today at 662.373.2828.