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  • Writer's pictureSoumya Choudhary

What does the phone have that the books don't?

Screen time and ADHD.

It has been decades since we started hearing about a condition called Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One of the few disorders, where the name is composed of two of the key symptoms. People who have ADHD supposedly lack attention.However, how is it possible that children with ADHD cannot focus when sometimes they are so attentive? Especially, when it comes to digital media and technology. We asked the same question and discovered something genuinely enlightening.

Screen time is rewarding for everyone and particularly for someone with ADHD. If you know someone with ADHD, then you understand the issue they have in sustaining attention. It could be said their brain gets bored. On one side of the coin, they are hooked to their phones, playing video games, jumping levels and unlocking new ones and on the other side they cannot focus on academic or personal activities. This is because the brain of people with ADHD needs a frequent reward system to keep it from getting bored, and screen time provides it with that incentive. Every time they get upgraded to another level on a game or unlock another gateway, the dopamine gets kicked in the brains' reward centre- again and again-and it just keeps going on.

Not just gaming- mindlessly scrolling through the phones, trying to multitask between apps and impulse buying are all pleasures that people with ADHD feed their brain with. This gets them hooked, and then the large number of different apps on the phone to switch between, ensures they do not get saturated.

The effects of screen time on people with ADHD are numerous. For example,the bright light from devices can affect the sleep cycle leading to nighttime awakening, sleep disturbances and so aggravate inattention issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Gaming addiction, mood disorders and lack of interest in physical activities add to the picture.

Some of our readers might also wonder if their child has high screen time, is she/he on the cusp of ADHD? The answer is not definitive and the debate continues. If you have read our previous blogs, then you know we never give out unsubstantiated information. We base it on hard facts. There was an extensive study done in Canada where the researchers tracked the growth of kids from birth until they were five years old. They found that children who spent more than 2 hours of screen time a day were seven times more likely to meet the ADHD criteria. Therefore, experts suggest that parents should regulate screen time from early stages of device usage.

Most of you may be thinking,"Duh, yes! It is common sense to limit the amount of time children spend in front of the TV or on mobile phones". But, perhaps it is not so common for a lot of parents.. Numerous media debates suggest that parents find it very hard to control screen time for their children, as it helps to keep them entertained. At Behavidence, we aim at providing a solution to this problem. What we know is that moderating and reducing screen time can effectively help in managing ADHD related behaviour. Therefore we created a DIGITAL PHENOTYPE- a digital picture of your child.

A digital picture of your child will give you an insight into their app usage patterns, duration and frequency. Such insights could be useful in monitoring your child's screen time usage and help with introducing new and healthier rewards.

To download the app for free and participate in our research- click here

What do we do at Behavidence?

Behavidence was founded to help people with the diagnosis, monitoring and therapy of mental health conditions. Utilizing digital phenotyping and machine learning algorithms we aim to give the app users, caregivers and clinical therapists high accuracy tools to evaluate onset, progression and relapse of mental health conditions together with signals, data-driven insights and technology to improve and enhance therapies and quality of life.

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