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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — Teens who frequently use smartphones and multimedia devices are more likely to develop ADHD symptoms, according to a new study.
The study, published in the medical journal JAMA on Tuesday, sheds light on how more research is needed to determine whether symptoms of the disorder, commonly called ADHD, are possibly caused by digital media use.
“If we can determine if there is a potential causal link that is consistent across studies, then we can design interventions to curb media exposure. Even simple educational information to let teachers, parents, and pediatric health professionals know that there could be an increased risk when they talk with their teens about digital media use might be helpful,” said Adam Leventhal, a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and lead author of the study.
ADHD symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness or impulsivity that is more severe, frequent or debilitating than normal.
The disorder, which is more common in boys than girls, affects about 5 percent of all children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prevalence of ADHD has been estimated at 5 percent worldwide, as well.
Treatment options include behavior therapy, medication and school accommodations.
“ADHD’s been linked with substance use disorders during adulthood and even involvement in the criminal justice system, and the symptoms are distressing for the person affected,” Leventhal said. “If we can identify any potential risk factor that is implicated in this disorder then that’s important, especially ones that are modifiable like digital media use.”
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