Current Psychiatry Reports

, 21:90 | Cite as

The Many Channels of Screen Media Technology in ADHD: a Paradigm for Quantifying Distinct Risks and Potential Benefits

  • Matthew M. EngelhardEmail author
  • Scott H. Kollins
Attention-Deficit Disorder (A Rostain, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Attention-Deficit Disorder


Purpose of Review

Individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be unusually sensitive to screen media technology (SMT), from television to mobile devices. Although an association between ADHD and SMT use has been confirmed, its importance is uncertain partly due to variability in the way SMT has been conceptualized and measured. Here, we identify distinct, quantifiable dimensions of SMT use and review possible links to ADHD to facilitate more precise, reproducible investigation.

Recent Findings

Display characteristics, media multitasking, device notifications, SMT addiction, and media content all may uniquely impact the ADHD phenotype. Each can be investigated with a digital health approach and counteracted with device-based interventions. Novel digital therapeutics for ADHD demonstrate that specific forms of SMT can also have positive effects.


Further study should quantify how distinct dimensions of SMT use relate to ADHD. SMT devices themselves can serve as a self-monitoring study platform and deliver digital interventions.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder Screen time Mental health Mobile health Digital health Digital therapeutics 


Funding information

This work was partly supported by the C. Keith Conners Fellowship in Digital Health founded by a donation from Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Matthew M. Engelhard declares no potential conflicts of interest.

Scott H. Kollins reports grants and personal fees from Akili Interactive, Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Bose, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Rhodes, Shire Pharmaceuticals, and Tris Pharmaceuticals.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA

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