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Shifting Perspectives: The Digital Age and Mental Health

As an ADHD Coach for nearly a decade, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles of parents and children navigating the complexities of ADHD. Initially, my coaching sessions often resembled a revolving door, with parents or caregivers dropping off children in hopes of a quick fix to their challenges. But as I delved deeper into the intricacies of neurodiversity and parenting, I realized that the key to supporting these amazing children lay not in ‘fixing’ them but in empowering the parents and caregivers in their lives.

In today’s digital age, there is a significant stressor that looms large, and that is screen time. Research increasingly links too much screen exposure to challenges with mental health, particularly among those with ADHD.
Just as we’ve learned to recognize the signs of ADHD and adapt our parenting strategies, we now need to be aware of how screen time may be contributing to these challenges in unique ways. It’s an excellent time to understand how screen time can impact sensory overload. And it’s time to redefine our expectations and embrace a more balanced approach to managing screen time.

We know that screens are here to stay. We use them at work, and our children use them at school. Balance is important. So how do we do that?
Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Movement is a big help because people with ADHD need to move their bodies. Getting outside and into nature can make a huge impact. Something that can measure your effort, like a smartwatch, can help motivate you to meet your physical activity goals.
  • Another possibility is having a menu of activities your kids can choose from. You can include getting outside, getting chores done, and getting creative as possibilities for activities.
  • Limit technology in the bedroom! Tech can impact sleep, which in turn impacts executive functions and school performance. If you’ve ever doomscrolled, you know what I’m talking about. As a parent or caregiver, make sure you follow the same rules.
  • If your child needs to use a computer to do homework, block less productive websites during homework time or unplug from the internet while they are working. There are lots of great apps like StayFocused, Mindful Browsing or Forest that can block sites like Facebook, YouTube, etc.

As a family, try unplugging for a day and planning something fun together, whether it’s getting outside, getting creative, or doing a fun activity. Not sure what to do? Here are some websites to get your creativity flowing: Central Library, Devonian Gardens, Glenbow at The Edison, Alberta University of the Arts, and Calgary Walking Tour. This will model a balance with technology, and who better than you to model that behaviour?

Too much of anything isn’t good. Since screens are here to stay, let’s look at the best ways to manage them.

If you need further support, CanLearn has counselling and parent coaching available.

Laura Godfrey
ADHD Life Coach