Smartphones are Giving Us ADHD-Like Symptoms [Study]

A recent study has found that the use of digital devices like smartphones and tablets is giving us symptoms similar to ADHD. The study was presented during the Human-Computer Interaction conference in San Jose. 

In a two-week study conducted by the University of Virginia and the University of British Columbia, participants showed symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention when they had their ringer and notifications on or on vibrate, as compared to when the phones were kept on silent. 

“We found the first experimental evidence that smartphone interruptions can cause greater inattention and hyperactivity — symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — even in people drawn from a nonclinical population,” said the study's lead, Kostadin Kushlev, a psychology research scientist at the University of Virginia.

During the first week, more than 200 participants were asked to maximize interruptions from their phones by keeping their notifications on and their phones within reach. During the second week, participants were told to keep all alerts off and their phones out of reach. The participants reported feeling significantly higher levels of inattention and hyperactivity during the first week. 

“The ever-increasing demands of multitasking, divided attention, and information overload that individuals encounter in their use of digital technologies may cause them to ‘retreat’ to the less cognitively demanding lower end of the concrete-abstract continuum,” the study's authors note.