Surfing the web too much? Study links problematic internet use to heightened ADHD symptoms


In a latest research printed within the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researchers describe the connection between problematic web use (PIU) and the signs of consideration deficit hyperactivity dysfunction (ADHD).

Research: The relationship between problematic internet use and attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity: A meta-analysis. Picture Credit score: Alexxndr / 


Extreme use of the web has develop into a possible public well being concern worldwide. The truth is, in keeping with the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Psychological Problems 5th version (DSM-5), web gaming dysfunction, gaming, and playing dysfunction are thought of particular psychological well being issues related to extreme web use.

So far, PIU has not been outlined by both DSM-5 or the Worldwide Classification of Illnesses 11th Revision (ICD-11). However, PIU may be characterised by impaired management over web use, negligence in day by day life actions as a result of elevated precedence of web use, and addiction-like signs, such because the continuation or escalation of web use regardless of unfavourable penalties.

Rising proof signifies that PIU can negatively have an effect on psychological well being and enhance the danger of melancholy, anxiousness, emotional misery, social withdrawal, obsessive-compulsive dysfunction (OCD), and ADHD. Importantly, the medical signs related to PIU are multifaceted, as a person’s character and social cognition can contribute to the quantity of gratification they expertise whereas utilizing the web.

PIU may also intensify present psychological issues like ADHD. For instance, addiction-like social media use has been proven to exacerbate ADHD signs like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and a spotlight deficit.

Research design

The present research adopted a meta-analytical method to elucidate the connection between PIU and ADHD signs. To this finish, the researchers searched completely different scientific databases to establish related research printed between 1996 and 2023. Particularly, peer-reviewed, cross-sectional research that measured PIU when it comes to common web dependancy and investigated its affiliation with ADHD signs had been included within the meta-analysis.

The ultimate screening led to the identification of 24 research, which comprised a complete pattern dimension of 18,859 contributors with a mean age of 18.4 years, printed between 2004 and 2023. On common, the chosen research had a low threat of bias.

Necessary observations

A complete of 19 research with 21 impact sizes had been analyzed to analyze the affiliation between PIU and ADHD signs. The evaluation revealed a major constructive affiliation between web dependancy and a spotlight deficit.

Equally, relating to hyperactivity, the meta-analysis, together with six research with seven impact sizes, revealed a major constructive affiliation with web dependancy. The meta-analysis of eight research with 9 impact sizes additionally confirmed a major constructive affiliation between web dependancy and impulsivity.

The findings of the sub-group evaluation recognized the age of contributors as a major moderating variable for consideration deficit, through which bigger impact sizes had been noticed in adults in comparison with kids or adolescents. Nonetheless, these subgroup variations between kids or adolescents and adults weren’t noticed for impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Contemplating contributors’ medical varieties, vital variations had been solely noticed for ADHD. Particularly, non-clinical contributors had been related to larger impact sizes than medical contributors. Thus, research contributors who will not be clinically recognized with ADHD is perhaps extra affected by web dependancy.

Additional statistical evaluation revealed vital gender variations for consideration deficit and hyperactivity. In each outcomes, considerably larger impact sizes had been noticed in male contributors in comparison with females.

Research significance

PIU is considerably related to ADHD-related signs, with clinically undiagnosed grownup males thought of to be a possible threat group within the affiliation between web dependancy and a spotlight deficit. Males additionally look like extra vulnerable to the connection between web dependancy and hyperactivity as in comparison with females.

A number of mechanisms have been proposed to be accountable for the affiliation between PIU and ADHD signs. For instance, web use typically entails quite a few attentional shifts by way of multi-tasking, which can negatively impression cognitive functioning. Web use for prolonged intervals of time might also scale back resting time for the mind, which is especially essential within the brains of people with attention-related issues.

One limitation of this meta-analysis is its cross-sectional method, which is unsuitable for explaining cause-and-effect relationships. However, the impression of web use on ADHD signs necessitates the necessity for added research, notably these investigating the efficacy of potential interventions to cut back web use or handle ADHD signs. Additional research are additionally wanted to higher perceive how web use at particular ages, together with kids and youngsters, might enhance the danger of ADHD-related signs.

Journal reference:

  • Augner, C., Vlasak, T., & Barth, A. (2023). The connection between problematic web use and a spotlight deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatric Analysis. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2023.10.032.
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