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Individuals with ADHD, particularly combined and hyperactive/inattentive subtypes, are at risk for developing disorders associated with new technology, including mobile phone dependency, internet dependency disorder, and internet gaming disorder.

There is an increase in the use and application of new technologies globally. This increase is paralleled by increased concern about the development of different disorders associated with technology, including mobile phone dependency, internet dependency disorder, and internet gaming disorder. The development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is related to internet gaming disorder and internet dependency disorder in susceptible individuals. There is insufficient evidence to support the association between mobile phone dependency and ADHD. This case-control study, published in the journal Addiciones, evaluated the relationship between mobile phone dependency, internet dependency disorder, internet gaming disorder, and ADHD. The control group included 61 participants, and the case group included 51 participants.

The study confirmed that new technologies and associated disorders, including mobile phone dependency, internet dependency disorder, and internet gaming disorder, were relatively more common among children with ADHD than healthy individuals. In coherence with the previous studies, this case-control study revealed that ADHD is a risk factor for the development of internet gaming disorder and internet dependency disorder; however, ADHD is not associated with the risk for mobile phone dependency. The study also demonstrated that combined and hyperactive/impulsive subtypes of ADHD are more closely linked to the onset of internet gaming disorder. The affected individuals demonstrate social cognitive and neurocognitive dysfunction, similar to those with ADHD and taking methamphetamine.

An important finding of the case-control study implies that social skills and good social adjustment can buffer the relationship between the combined and hyperactivity/impulsive subtypes of ADHD. Increased engagement in video games and computers may lead to the scarcity of social skills, which may contribute to the development of self-regulation problems among individuals engaged in video gaming.

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In a trial involving 62 drug-naive, ADHD-diagnosed children who played online video games, the authors discovered that after eight weeks of methylphenidate therapy, the children’s ADHD symptoms improved, and they spent less time online gaming. ADHD medicines and video game play increase synaptic dopamine, suggesting internet video game playing may be a kind of self-medication for ADHD children. In another study, children with poor social skills received treatment in the form of an interactive online adventure game, with results after 9 weeks showing significant improvement in several social skills metrics.

In summary, ADHD functions as an important risk factor in the development of internet gaming disorder and internet dependency disorder; however, it does not influence the risk of developing mobile phone dependency. Further research studies are required to formulate preventive strategies for susceptible children and adolescents.

Reference

Menéndez-García, A., Jiménez-Arroyo, A., Rodrigo-Yanguas, M., Marin-Vila, M., Sánchez-Sánchez, F., Roman-Riechmann, E., & Blasco-Fontecilla, H. (2022). Internet, video game and mobile phone addiction in children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD: A case-control study. Adicciones, 34(3), 208-217. doi:10.20882/adicciones.1469