At a Glance: Helping Kids With ADHD Manage Screen Time

By The Understood Team

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ADHD can affect how kids use technology. See how common problems like too much screen time or too little sleep tie in to ADHD symptoms—and get practical tips on how you can help.

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At a Glance: Helping Kids With ADHD Manage Screen Time

Many kids have trouble managing screen time and knowing when it’s time to unplug. But ADHD can make it even harder for kids to make good decisions about technology. Learn about common trouble spots and ways you can help.

Common Trouble Spots

Time Management
ADHD can make it hard to keep track of time. Kids can spend hours and hours in front of a screen.

Impulse Control
Kids with ADHD may be more likely to engage in risky online behavior like watching inappropriate videos or sexting.

Winding down at bedtime can be challenging for kids with ADHD. Screen time can make it even more dicult.

Kids with ADHD can get “lost” in a game and forget that they have tasks they need to be doing.

All the bells and whistles online make it even more challenging for kids with ADHD to stay focused.

Social Skills
More screen time may mean less time to practice picking up on social cues during face-to-face interactions.

How to Help

Avoid Technology at Bedtime
• Try to end screen time at least 30 minutes before your child goes to bed.
• Consider moving smartphones and other devices out of the bedroom at night.
• Keep TVs and computers in a common area, like the living room, to make it harder for your child to goof off or engage in risky online behavior.

Reduce Distractions
• Avoid having the TV on in the background during homework time.
• If your child’s computer is in the living room and family noise is an issue, see if headphones or earplugs help.
• Consider using free apps like SelfControl to block certain websites during homework time.
• Create “media-free zones” such as family dinners when everyone has to set aside their devices.

Remind Your Child It’s Time to Unplug
• Set an alarm clock near your child’s device or use a built-in timer.
• Come up with a system that warns your child at least ve minutes before it’s time to stop.
• If you’re at home and can give reminders in person, get your child’s attention by doing things like making eye contact or flicking the lights o and on.

Create a Screen Time Contract
• Help your child come up with a schedule that builds in time for homework and other activities.
• Post a contract on the wall that sets limits on tech use and what the consequences will be for breaking these rules.
• Make it clear that you’ll be doing surprise inspections from time to time on your child’s phone and other devices.
• Praise your child for logging o at the agreed-upon time.
Graphic of At a Glance: Helping Kids With ADHD Manage Screen Time
Graphic of At a Glance: Helping Kids With ADHD Manage Screen Time

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About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Jodi Gold

Jodi Gold, M.D., is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice.

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