June 20, 2019

Tech Time and ADHD – How Much Is Too Much?

mission health kids and technology - screen time, adhdLimiting Screen Time

“Too much screen time may push people on the cusp over the edge,” said Penny O’Neill, MD, a pediatrician at Mission Women’s and Children’s Center Franklin.

Dr. O’Neill believes the brain can be trained or untrained by fascinating games that reward impulsivity. Those with poor attention are later challenged to focus on less-engaging activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting school-age children’s screen time to two hours.

A family media plan hones quality and quantity of children’s digital entertainment. Limiting access to devices, especially at night, allows children and devices to recharge. Device-free periods during designated family time model good practices and phone etiquette for children.

“These days children are constantly entertained. When they never get bored, I feel it stifles their creativity,” said Dr. O’Neill.

Engaging without Electronics

Look to your child’s interests and aspirations for ways of engaging them. Children interested in how things work may enjoy Legos or learning small-engine repair. Put a new twist on physical activities by introducing yoga, Tai Chi, Tae Bo or other unique organized sports to burn excess energy and calories.

Fuel friendly competition by challenging your children to a Chopped-style cook off or crochet contest. Even piddling in the workshop will help fill the void left by tabled electronics. Teaching kids old-style games like dodge ball, jacks, croquet, hopscotch or capture the flag can make lasting memories. Creative outlets like drawing, making cardboard inventions or crafting engage children’s imaginations for hours. By building other interests you will ground your children in the real world instead of a digital one.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a life-long condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity:

Inattentive ADHD

  • Easily distracted by trivial noises or events
  • Procrastinates
  • Has difficulty following instructions
  • Disorganized and often loses items needed for a task
  • Has difficulty finishing chores or homework
  • Has difficulty following social rules

Hyperactive ADHD

  • Fidgets, squirms or has difficulty staying seated
  • Runs or climbs excessively
  • Has trouble doing hobbies or playing quietly
  • Talks excessively

Impulsive ADHD

  • Impatient
  • Has difficulty waiting their turn
  • Often blurts out answers before question is asked

To schedule an appointment with Dr. O’Neill or another provider at Mission Women’s and Children’s Center Franklin, call 828-349-8284.

Penny O’Neill, MD, is a pediatrician at Mission Women’s and Children’s Center Franklin.

Learn more about Mission Health’s pediatric care and services at missionchildrens.org.