Screen Time, Preschoolers, and the Risk for ADHD

Screen Time, Preschoolers, and the Risk for ADHD


Have you ever plopped your preschooler on the couch with a tablet, gaming device, or smartphone to keep them occupied while you get a few chores done around the house? If so, you could be putting them at increased risk for attention problems and hyperactivity.

Kids with more than two hours a day of screen time by the age of 5 are almost eight times more likely to meet the criteria for ADD/ADHD than youngsters who spend less than 30 minutes a day looking at a screen, according to a 2019 Canadian study in Plos One.

Having untreated ADD/ADHD as a child can have lasting impacts into adulthood. Research shows that adults diagnosed with the condition as a child tend to:

  • do more poorly in school
  • have more trouble getting and keeping a job
  • don’t make as much money financially
  • are more likely to get divorced
  • are at higher risk for substance abuse

This is why it is so important to get diagnosed and to get the right treatment. Brain imaging shows there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD and each type needs its own treatment plan.

Decreasing your child’s risk for the condition can help. The next time you’re tempted to use screen time as a sort of babysitter, think twice. You could be setting up your child for a lifetime of struggle. It’s best to limit your preschooler’s screen time to no more than 30 minutes a day. Here are three ways to do it.

3 Tips to Limit Your Preschooler’s Screen Time

1. Use parental controls.

Tablets and smartphones come equipped with control options that allow parents to monitor and limit screen time.

2. Set and enforce screen rules.

No screens at the dinner table. No screens in the car. No screens before bedtime. Whatever rules you set, be sure to enforce them. This will help preschoolers develop a healthier relationship with their tech gadgets.

3. Encourage physical activity.

Take your child to the park, swimming pool, or activity center or sign them up for group sports so they can burn off energy while having fun and learning new skills. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and it boosts focus and attention. In the Canadian study mentioned above, kids who spent at least two hours a week playing organized sports were less likely to have behavioral issues. When ADD patients play sports, such as basketball, which involves intense aerobic exercise, they tend to do better in school.

At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of children overcome ADD/ADHD. With the world’s largest database or function brain scans, we can accurately diagnose which of the 7 types of ADD/ADHD a child has and target treatment to their needs. We believe in taking a whole brain-body approach to healing that may include nutrition coaching, supplements, medication when needed, and other therapies.

If your child is struggling with inattention, lack of focus, or hyperactivity, reach out today to speak to a specialist at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.



  1. Very good points!

    Comment by Roberta Allen — June 19, 2019 @ 4:18 AM

  2. Does screen time include TV shows and movies?

    Comment by Danielle Minton — June 20, 2019 @ 5:19 AM

  3. Too much screen time will create some ADHD-like symptoms, not ADHD. ADHD is a neurological difference that can not be ‘caused’ or ‘created’. Kids with ADHD are born with the condition and many of them grow up with lots of talents and abilities and lead successful lives. Early intervention, including occupational therapy and medication can drastically improve their quality of life.

    Comment by Debbie C — June 30, 2019 @ 3:32 AM

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