ADHD or OCD? Watch your screen time

A new study indicates people with certain mental health issues are more likely to overuse technology.


Researchers questioned 24, 000 participants about their digital activities, mental health, relationship status, education level, and other personal characteristics. The average age of the participants was 36 years, and 65% of them were female.


Mental health was strongly predictive of compulsive digital and/or online activity. Individuals with ADHD and OCD were more likely to overuse social media and video games, but the association was stronger with social media. The researchers hypothesized that the constant alerts from social media accounts were particularly distracting to those with ADHD and OCD.


The data also indicated that those with anxiety were more likely to be addicted to social media, but less likely to form an addiction to video games. However, depressed individuals were more likely to compulsively play video games than to check social media. The authors of the paper proposed the idea that, “anxious people turn to social networking because they struggle with face-to-face communication, whereas depressed people withdraw from social networking and social contact in general.”


Gender differences were evident. Men were more likely to be addicted to gaming, pornography, and gambling, and women were more likely to be addicted to texting, social media, and online shopping.


The takeaway? Parents, if a member of your family struggles with mental health, he or she may need additional guidance while developing good screen time habits. Technology is a popular form of self-medication, but the addictive nature of many online activities makes this approach risky at best. Develop with your family healthy coping mechanisms, and have an open dialogue about processing emotions.


You can read more about the study here at Psychiatric Advisor.


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