It’s not hard to find a child these days who has been diagnosed with ADHD. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the number of children labeled with the condition had risen to 11% by 2011.


But a new medical article by Dr. Dimitri Christakis raises the question: are American adults aiding and abetting the rapid rise in ADHD?

As Dr. Christakis reports, while genetic factors do play a role in some cases of ADHD, their role is relatively minor. Instead, Dr. Christakis wonders if overstimulation is a key factor in fostering the ADHD explosion. Christakis writes:

“For many years, my laboratory has been exploring what we call the overstimulation hypothesis: the notion that overstimulating the developing brain in the first years of life will condition it to expect high levels of input and will lead to shorter attention spans later. We have found that exposure to rapidly paced television programs in the first 3 years of life increases the risk of attentional deficits at school age. We also found that cognitive stimulation during that same period in terms of reading, singing, and playing with children decreases the risk of attentional deficits.”

In our busy society, it’s tempting for parents to use screens as babysitters. Perhaps that’s not as harmless for kids as many assume or hope.

Image Credit: Wayan Vota via Flickr