Television Overexposure and ADHD: Is there a connection?

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Television Overexposure and ADHD: Is there a connection?

It is an urban myth that an overexposure to watching television may cause people to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). My purpose is to study this theory to discover if it is accurate. I am also interested in discovering how ADHD plays a role in education.

Before I can begin I have to start by researching what ADHD is. ADHD is a disorder among people that is associated with three main symptoms which are poor sustained attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. Along with these three main topics, three subtypes have also been identified in the forms of being predominately inattentive, predominately hyperactive-impulsive, and combined types (Barkley).

Where does ADHD occur? Out of the childhood population 4-12% have ADHD (Clayton). Along with that percentage boys can be found outweighing girls in a ratio of 3:1. ADHD can continue on into a person’s adolescence stage in 50-80% of clinically diagnosed case and into adulthood in 30-50% of these same cases (Barkley).

How can someone determine if their child or children have ADHD? ADHD is most likely evaluated through diagnostic interviews with the child, their parents, and the child’s tearcher(s). Other evaluations are behavior rating scales completed by both the parents and the teacher(s), direct observations of the students’ school behavior, and clinic based testing (Anastopoulos).

There are many different methods as to how ADHD is treated. Some examples are couneling and behavior management training for the parents, family, and teacher. The are also special education resources available in order to help children with ADHD. Another alternative for parents is to have a professional prescribe psychoactive medications for their child or children to improve their behavior (Barkley). The most effective type of medication found for ADHD are stimulants. Different medications work differently on many people and it is important to work with a professional to decide which prescription is right for you. In some cases the use of stimulant psychoactive medication dramatically reduces hyperactive and impulsive behaviors, im proves focus, and has even improved physical coordination (Attention).

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What is the cause of ADHD? Environmental factors such as the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy are viewed as a possible risk of ADHD for the unborn child. Another environmental factor that could be to blame for the development of ADHD in children is the exposure to toxic levels of lead paint or lead pipes in old buildings (Attention).

Genetics may also be to blame for ADHD. In a study, 25% of close relatives in the families of ADHD children also have ADHD. The studies also show however that this only refers to about 5% of the general population (Attention).

A popular view is that watching too much television may cause a child to develop ADHD. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, who is a pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle discovered that children ages 1 to 3 that watch 1 hour of television a day have a 10% greater risk of developing ADHD by the time that they become 7. The study also showed that the risk becomes greater with the higher amount of television that the children are allowed to watch. Dr. Christakis continues by pointing out that children who are ages 1 to 3 watch an average of 2 to 3 hours of television a day and that 30% of all children have a television inside their bedroom (ErcanBrack). Another source says that even though the average toddler watches 2-3 hours of television a day, there are some young children that watch about 12 hours of televison a day (Tuning).

However there are other sources that dispute this theory. Along with food/ diet, poor parenting, and genetic hormones, the overexposure to watching televison and playing video games are unproven causes of ADHD (Strattera). These researchers may not see the overexposure of television watching to be a cause of ADHD itself but they do believe it is a contributing factor in the increase of ADHD symptoms. The viewing habits of 2,500 children were monitored between the ages of 1 to 3. The results proved that the evidence of ADHD symptoms increased by 10% for every hour of television that was watched a day (Tuning).

As a future teacher I have to worry about how I will be effected by this. It is estimated that at least 2 million children in the United States have ADHD, and that out of 25-30 children in a classroom at least one of them has ADHD (Attention). With those estimates I can assume that I am bound to have a student with ADHD more than once during my teaching career. Even though the exact cause of ADHD is not certain, it is certain that I should prepare myself for the possibility of teaching children with ADHD.

References

Anastopoulos, A. D., DuPaul, G. J., Ikeda, M. J., McGoey, K. E., Power, T. J., Reid, R. (1997). Teacher Ratings of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms: Factor Structure and Normative Data. In Psychological Assessment (Vol. 9 (4)). Retrieved October 3, 2004, from http://web4.epnet.com/citation.asp?tb=1&_ug=sid+2BA09DCF%2D8D7B%2D4503%2D8450%2D8C6028AB825C40sessionmgr5+dbs+pdh+cp+1+F1D2&_us=hs+False+or+Date+ss+SO+
sm+KS+sl+%2D1+dstb+KS+ri+KAAACBYA00016313+685C&_uso=hd+False+tg%5B0+%2D+st%5B0+%2Dadhd+
db%5B0+%2Dpdh+op%5B0+%2D+4DF4&fn=81&rn=85

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (2003). Retrieved October 3, 2004, from National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/Publicat/ADHD.cfm

Barkley, R.A. (1997). Behavioral Inhibition, Sustained Attention, and Executive Functions: Constructing a Unifying Theory of ADHD. In Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 121 (1)). Retrieved October 3, 2004, from http://web4.epnet.com/citation.asp?tb=1&_ug=sid+2BA09DCF%2D8D7B%2D4503%2D8450%2D8C6028AB825C%40sessionmgr5+dbs+pdh+cp+1+F1D2&_us=hs+False+or+Date+ss+SO+sm+KS+sl+%2D1+dstb+KS+ri+KAAACBYA00016313+685C&_uso=hd+False+tg%5B0+%2D+st%5B0+%2Dadhd+db%5B0+%2Dpdh+op%5B0+%2D+4DF4&fn=91&rn=93

Clayton, V. (2004, September, 8). What’s to blame for the rise in ADHD?. MSNBC News, 20(1), Retrieved September 26, 2004, from http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5933775/

Ercanbrack, L. (2004, April 8). Too much television may cause ADHD. BYU NewsNet, 1, Retrieved September 26, 2004, from http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/49873

Strattera. (2004). Retrieved September 26, 2004, from http://www.strattera.com/1_3_childhood_adhd/1_3_1_1_1_causes.jsp

Tuning In to ADHD. (2004, September). Focus on Your Family’s Health, 1, Retrieved September 26, 2004, from http://www.health.family.org/babies/articles/a0002281.html


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