Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens


Image: Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens

Adding to the list of health concerns associated with excessive screen time, one study suggests that there could be a link between the length of time teenagers spend online and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The two-year study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), observed more than 2,500 high school students from Los Angeles.

Digital media and the attention span of teenagers

A team of researchers analyzed data from the teenagers who had shorter attention spans the more they became involved in different digital media platforms for the duration of the experiment.

The JAMA study observed adolescents aged 15 and 16 years periodically for two years. The researchers asked the teenagers about the frequency of their online activities and if they had experienced any of the known symptoms of ADHD.

As the teenagers’ digital engagement rose, their reported ADHD symptoms also went up by 10 percent. The researchers noted that based on the results of the study, even if digital media usage does not definitively cause ADHD, it could cause symptoms that would result in the diagnosis of ADHD or require pharmaceutical treatment.

Experts believe that ADHD begins in the early stages of childhood development. However, the exact circumstances, regardless if they are biological or environmental, have yet to be determined.

Adam Leventhal, a University of Southern California psychologist and senior author of the study, shared that the research team is now analyzing the occurrence of new symptoms that were not present when the study began.

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Other studies about digital engagement have implied that there is an inverse relationship with happiness. The less people used digital media, the more they reported feeling an overall sense of happiness. (Related: The social media paradox: Teens who are always online feel more lonely.)

The researchers concluded that the teenagers might have exhibited ADHD symptoms from the outset due to other factors. However, it is possible that excessive digital media usage can still aggravate these symptoms.

Fast facts about ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is commonly diagnosed in children. However, it can also be diagnosed in older individuals. ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. Since several symptoms of ADHD are similar to normal childhood behaviors, the disorder itself can be hard to detect.

The symptoms of ADHD may include forgetting completed tasks, having difficulty sitting still, having difficulty staying organized, and having trouble concentrating or focusing.

  • Men are at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
  • During their lifetimes, at least 13 percent of men will be diagnosed with ADHD, as opposed to only 4.2 percent in women.
  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis is seven years old.
  • The symptoms of the condition will usually manifest when a child is aged three to six years old.
  • ADHD is not solely a childhood disorder. At least four percent of American adults older than 18 may have ADHD.

This disorder does not increase an individual’s risk for other conditions or diseases. However, some people with ADHD, mostly children, have a higher chance of experiencing different coexisting conditions. These can make social situations, like school, more difficult for kids with ADHD.

Some coexisting conditions of ADHD may include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bed-wetting problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders and difficulties (e.g., antisocial behavior, fighting, and oppositional defiant disorder)
  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Tourette syndrome

Minimize your child’s ADHD risk by reading more articles with tips on how to manage their internet use at Addiction.news.

Sources include:

Lifezette.com

Healthline.com

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Extending battery life for mobile devices: ‘Braidio’ tech lets mobile devices share power


Computer science researchers have introduced a new radio technology that allows small mobile devices to take advantage of battery power in larger devices nearby for communication.

Battery size in portable devices is proportional to their size. The larger the device, the larger its battery; a laptop battery is roughly a thousand times larger than one in a fitness tracker, a hundred times larger than in a smartwatch, and 10 times larger than in a cell phone. A newly developed ‘radio’ can let devices share battery power, so in the future, thin mobile devices like watches may be able to be made even thinner, drawing power from larger nearby electronic devices.

In a paper presented today at the Association for Computing Machinery’s special interest group on data communication (SIGCOMM) conference in Florianópolis, Brazil, a team of computer science researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by professor Deepak Ganesan introduced a new radio technology that allows small mobile devices to take advantage of battery power in larger devices nearby for communication.

Ganesan and his graduate students in the College of Information and Computer Sciences, Pan Hu, Pengyu Zhang and Mohammad Rostami, designed and are testing a prototype radio that could help to extend the life of batteries in small, mass-market mobile devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches. They hope using “energy offload” techniques may help to make these devices smaller and lighter in the future.

Ganesan and colleagues have dubbed the new technology Braidio for “braid of radios,” and say it can extend battery life hundreds of times in some cases.

As he explains, battery size in portable devices is proportional to their size. The larger the device, the larger its battery; a laptop battery is roughly a thousand times larger than one in a fitness tracker, a hundred times larger than in a smartwatch, and 10 times larger than in a cell phone. However, these devices can’t take advantage of the differences. For example, Ganesan says, “the battery on your smart watch cannot survive longer by taking advantage of the higher battery level on your smartphone.”

“We take for granted the ability to offload storage and computation from our relatively limited personal computers to the resource-rich cloud,” he adds. “In the same vein, it makes sense that devices should also be able to offload how much power they consume for communication to devices that have more energy.”

In the paper presented today, to be published in the conference proceedings, the researchers show that they have made strides toward fixing this problem, designing a radio that has the ability to offload energy to larger devices nearby and, in effect, making both device size and battery consumption proportional to the size of battery.

To achieve this, they embellished Bluetooth, a commonly-used radio technology, with the ability to operate in a similar manner to radio-frequency identification (RFID), which operates asymmetrically. That is, a reader does most of the work and pays the majority of the energy cost of communication, while a tag, typically embedded in a smaller device or object, is extremely power-efficient.

Braidio operates like a standard Bluetooth radio when a device has sufficient energy, but operates like RFID when energy is low, offloading energy use to a device with a larger battery when needed. So, when a smartwatch and smartphone are equipped with Braidios, they can work together to proportionally share the energy consumed for communication, they explain.

Hu says their Braidio test results show that when a device with a small battery is transmitting to a device with large battery, Braidio can offer roughly 400 times longer battery life than Bluetooth, since the smaller device’s battery is preserved longer.

“To be clear, our results only cover the cost of communication or transmitting data,” Hu adds. “If a radio is transmitting from a camera that consumes hundreds of milliwatts while using its sensor, clearly the sensors may dominate total power consumption and reduce the benefits of optimizing the radio.”

The team designed Braidio’s radio frequency front end so that it could operate in different modes while consuming power comparable to a Bluetooth radio and using simple, low-cost components. They also designed algorithms that monitor the channel and energy at the transmitter and receiver and switch dynamically between modes to accomplish power-proportional communication without sacrificing throughput. With further optimization, the researchers believe Braidio or similar radios can be made smaller and more efficient for mass-market needs.

Ganesan says that technologies like Braidio open up a new way of thinking about the design of mobile and wearable devices. “Wearable devices are often bulky due to large batteries needed for adequate battery life,” he says. “Perhaps such energy offload techniques can reverse this trend and enable thinner and lighter devices.”