How Social Media Affects Attention Span

social media and adhd

In our current age of quickly evolving technology and social media, it’s no wonder that adults and children are having difficulty focusing their attention. When you consider smartphones, email, TV, DVRs, the internet, and social media, it’s easy to see why our brain’s neurons are constantly going full tilt. These advances in technology give us more access to screen time, and the ability to access social media on any device at any time is increasing the amount of time we spend on social platforms. 

What Are the Neurological Effects of Social Media?

The constant ability to access social media and fast-paced technology means our brains are exposed to high volumes of brain stimulation and our neurons are firing all day long. This easy access to social media on multiple devices leads to multi-tasking, which inhibits our ability to focus completely on one task at a time. For example, if your child seems to be having difficulty concentrating or finishing tasks without getting distracted, you might think it’s due to a mental health condition, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But before jumping to conclusions, it’s important to remember that constant access to social media can also be the culprit.  

ADHD and Social Media

There’s a distinction between a person struggling with ADHD and one who’s struggling to focus due to an overload of technological stimuli. Individuals with ADHD need mental stimulation, which is why they’re given stimulants to help them stay focused in the classroom. On the other hand, people who spend a lot of time with their electronics have trained their brains to receive heightened stimulation and the accompanying dopamine boosts. This type of stimulation leads to symptoms similar to ADHD, but they’re not necessarily leading to the actual disorder.

Tips to Avoid Overstimulation from Social Media

If you think you’re feeling overstimulated from too much screen time and social media, try making these simple changes to your environment:

  • Monitoring your screen time. It’s important to know how much time you’re spending on your smartphone, computer, and TV. If it’s too much, limit yourself to 35-40 minutes a day. Find hobbies that don’t involve screens, like board games, walking, or riding your bicycle.
  • Relaxing your mind. Try meditation or breathing exercises to help you relax and increase your focus. If you’re working, try putting on some soothing music at a low volume, which can also keep you relaxed and focused.
  • Making your bedroom a stimulus-free zone. If you’re looking at your phone or tablet before going to sleep, you can actually disrupt your sleep, which causes fatigue. Instead, try reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
  • Learning delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is a life skill that will help you persevere and stay focused on goals for which the returns aren’t immediately experienced. It’s a great way to help you identify short- and long-term goals, which will help you gain success in your life.

Learn More About the Effects of Social Media on Attention Span

If you think you have attention span issues from social media use, contact your nearest Baptist Health location today.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

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