Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ADHD and Internet Behavior

A number of studies have reported an association between internet compulsivity and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, this type of research focuses on relationship between two things versus whether or not one causes the other. It is difficult to truly understand what is going on in relational research. To use a metaphor, it’s like saying ice cream sales and crime rates are related (they are). Both are high at the same time, and both are low at the same. While they are related, people will sometimes try to say one causes the other. For example, a person might propose, “People are stealing money to buy ice cream.” Another response might be, “Eating ice cream leads to crime.” Neither is accurate, and often another explanation might be better. In this case, both ice cream sales and crime rates increase in warmer weather. More people are out when it is 85 degrees (and hence may be robbed), and also more people are willing to eat ice cream when it is 85 degrees versus when it is 30 degrees.

Most often ADHD is first recognized as a child or adolescent. Recently, more and more adults are being diagnosed with ADHD. The diagnosis isn’t without controversy. It isn’t clear if the diagnosis is the current “trendy” diagnosis or if it is a true problem with adults. Having an ADHD diagnosis is also open to misuse, particularly with providing an excuse for the behavior, “I go online because I have ADHD.” Without a doubt, the relationship between internet use and ADHD is present, but complex. The key in our work is to acknowledge the relationship, and provide a basic level of information for you to follow-up with your primary physician. In some cases, treating ADHD might reduce an individual’s problems with the internet.

To help you determine if you need follow-up, please review the following symptoms. If you see five or six of them as descriptive of you, please seek out and obtain the necessary support for further follow-up.

Symptoms of ADHD

Does not give close attention to details
Makes careless mistakes in work, or other activities.
Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks.
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
Often does not follow through on instructions
Fails to finish duties in the workplace
Often has trouble organizing activities.
Doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort.
Often loses things
Is often easily distracted.
Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat when sitting still is expected.
Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
Often feel very restless.
Often has trouble doing leisure activities quietly.
Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor".
Often talks excessively.
Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
Often has trouble waiting one's turn.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

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