A recent study has uncovered a connection between adult individuals exhibiting symptoms resembling attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their excessive use of social media, smartphone dependency, and internet addiction. Remarkably, these ADHD-like traits were observable even in adults who had never received an official ADHD diagnosis.

Diverging from previous research, this novel study delved into various aspects of technology addiction, encompassing activities such as social media engagement and compulsive online shopping. It explored how these behaviors correlated with individual characteristics reminiscent of ADHD, such as short attention spans and impulsivity.

Researchers hailing from Bournemouth University conducted surveys involving 150 adults, all of whom had never been diagnosed with ADHD. The surveys probed their patterns of social media utilization, smartphone reliance, internet habits, and online shopping tendencies. Additionally, participants completed a recognized checklist designed for adults to self-report any ADHD symptoms they might be experiencing and the intensity of those symptoms.

Tuba Aydin, a PhD researcher at Bournemouth University who led the study, commented, “Like many young people, I was often criticized by adults for spending too much time looking at my cell phone. Then as smartphones became more common, it was clear to me that adults were addicted to them too and were spending more time staring at them than me! After discovering that people can experience ADHD symptoms without being diagnosed with ADHD, I decided to look further into how different behaviors in adults could affect different types of technology addiction.”

The findings of this groundbreaking study, documented in the journal Current Psychology, reveal that adults displaying signs resembling ADHD are more likely to grapple with some form of technology addiction. Upon scrutinizing various types of technology addiction, the research team ascertained that individuals exhibiting inattention and hyperactivity were more susceptible to issues related to their social media usage and smartphone dependency.

Interestingly, inattention was the sole symptom that could predict whether someone might develop a problem associated with excessive internet usage. While a correlation existed between inattention and impulsivity with online shopping addiction, it was not strong enough to conclusively predict that individuals with these symptoms would become addicted to online shopping. This finding came as a surprise, as the round-the-clock accessibility of online shopping and persuasive marketing notifications had previously been thought to heighten the impulse to shop among individuals with high levels of attention deficit and impulsivity.

Tuba elaborated, stating, “Our findings offer valuable insights into how different types of technology addictions can affect adults differently. This can be important for helping health professionals develop preventative strategies and treatment plans for the different addictions.”

She concluded by emphasizing, “Crucially, none of our participants have ever had a diagnosis of ADHD or received any psychological treatment in the past. So people need to be aware that just because you do not have ADHD, it does not mean that you cannot have symptoms of the condition, and you could still be vulnerable to technology addiction at some point in the future.”

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