ADHD is the most prevalent psychiatric illness of young people aged 4 to 17 in America according to the CDC. The diagnosis rate and treatment have increased much in the last decade. This ‘disorder’ has no definitive test and is determined only by speaking extensively with patients, parents, teachers and ruling out other causes- a subjective process that is often skipped under time constraints and pressure from parents[see “more diagnoses of ADHD causing concern” nytimes 3.13.13]. It is considered a chronic condition that is carried into adulthood [see “more diagnoses of ADHD causing concern” nytimes 3.13.13]. We pathologize kids if they want to play and not sit still. Yet in other countries where kids play, ADHD is a thing unknown. We medicate kids making some addicted to drugs that cure hyperactivity. We make them addicted to mental steroids instead of encouraging reading or some other activity that kids in other parts of the world do. With such statistics and increases one cannot but help wonder whether ADHD is really a disease without wondering where the need of being constantly stimulated came/comes from.
Is it possible that digital technology in the bedroom is beginning to affect and spike or invent levels of ADHD?
Story time used to be reading stories to kids at nights. Now parents are migrating to digital media to read stories. Parents are no longer turning pages or talking about the story or interacting with their kids. And things are lost in e reading. Some kids like it when the mother or father or big brother or sister or whomever reads the story snuggles up next to them to read. the sense of touch is vital to reading a story to a kid. And it wouldn’t even matter to a child if the reader were a babysitter; in fact kids take to their baby sitter quite well because baby sitters do as much and sometimes more for kids with working or absent parents who cannot read their kids to sleep. In e reading, an activity as beautiful and simple as reading a book to kids has become a distraction with lights popping up and sounds that aren’t conducive to soft reading a child to sleep. There’s great disconnect in adapting these distancing measures for kids who need contact, love, cooing to, building excitement that an E book cannot give to children. Ebooks have even become the TV baby sitters of the 21 century. Yet part of learning any language well is being talked to, not being talked with.
Later, these ‘hyperactive’ kids grow up and carry the burdensome title of ADHD, seeking novelty wherever they go and immediate gratification. Some grow out of it when they reach college, which makes one wonder even more whether there’s a cause and effect to ADHD kids and technology. We live in a society where there’s much learning and interaction taking place, besides schools, universities and other learning establishments. Professors, educators etc are needed to interact for optimal learning. There are classes for just about anything: courses on Beyoncé, potter novels, potter films, Lamaze for pregnant women, bar tending on how to mix drinks, how to marry successfully etc. But there’s no class for parenting for our most valuable asset, our children. And when kids come into the world there are limitless classes to occupy them: from gymboree to sewing for little girls to ballet to gymnastics; all of which are good for keeping them busy and learning, but classes which place them alone, together.
When people like Amy Chua or Pamela druckerman or others offer insight, we speak ill of them. We call them helicopter parents, tiger moms etc. It would behoove us to read through their words and ideas, reject what seems to not fit our child, and instead reflect on why they are connected to their kids. We might see that they are well intentioned, and why their kids are not restless or hyperactive, but hyper-stimulated towards something other than stimuli from technology or being left alone to fend for themselves. We may see some wisdom in their parenting and learn how to avoid environmental ADHD and overmedication of our kids. Then we will have lower levels of ADHD. Medicines wouldn’t run out because they are taken by high school kids as a drug to stay up or something they’ve grown accustomed to taking. Smarter, more connected and emotionally intelligent kids may emerge from those same ADHD kids, and they may not grow up feeling the need to connect constantly to technology to avoid alone-ness.