Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blaming iPads for the ADHD epidemic

Don't worry kid, it's not your fault that school is so boring.

"You may wonder what accounts for the recent explosive increase in the rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its treatment through medication. The lifetime prevalence in children has increased to 11 percent in 2011 from 7.8 percent in 2003 — a whopping 41 percent increase — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 6.1 percent of young people were taking some A.D.H.D. medication in 2011, a 28 percent increase since 2007. Most alarmingly, more than 10,000 toddlers at ages 2 and 3 were found to be taking these drugs, far outside any established pediatric guidelines.
Some of the rising prevalence of A.D.H.D. is doubtless driven by the pharmaceutical industry, whose profitable drugs are the mainstay of treatment. Others blame burdensome levels of homework, but the data show otherwise. Studies consistently show that the number of hours of homework for high school students has remained steady for the past 30 years
I think another social factor that, in part, may be driving the “epidemic” of A.D.H.D. has gone unnoticed: the increasingly stark contrast between the regimented and demanding school environment and the highly stimulating digital world, where young people spend their time outside school. Digital life, with its vivid gaming and exciting social media, is a world of immediate gratification where practically any desire or fantasy can be realized in the blink of an eye. By comparison, school would seem even duller to a novelty-seeking kid living in the early 21st century than in previous decades, and the comparatively boring school environment might accentuate students’ inattentive behavior, making their teachers more likely to see it and driving up the number of diagnoses."

I would venture that not only has school become relatively more boring than children's non-school world but that it has also become absolutely more boring, relative to school 30 years ago.

When the psychopharmacologist who wrote this NYT piece mentions ADHD "helping" kids, remember that ADHD meds are effective at 1) reducing disruptive behaviors, but NOT 2) increasing grades (i.e., learning). So it's really the boring teacher who is helped by the meds (and the non-ADHD kids in the class), not the patient.

We are the only country in the world that medicates their children on such a grand scale. It is a damning indictment of our educational system.

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