Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-Symptoms, Social Media Use Intensity, and Social Media Use Problems in Adolescents: Investigating Directionality

Child Dev. 2020 Jul;91(4):e853-e865. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13334. Epub 2019 Oct 26.


Cross-sectional research shows that adolescents' social media use (SMU) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-symptoms are related, but it is unclear whether this relation is explained by SMU intensity or by addiction-like SMU problems. Also, due to the lack of longitudinal studies, the direction of this relation remains unknown. This study aims to disentangle which type of SMU is related to ADHD-symptoms, and in which direction, using a three-wave longitudinal study among Dutch adolescents aged 11-15 years (n = 543). Findings suggest a unidirectional relation: SMU problems increased ADHD-symptoms over time, SMU intensity did not. This implies that problematic use, rather than the intensity of use harmfully affects adolescents' ADHD-symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / complications
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet Addiction Disorder* / complications
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Media*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires