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Possible Link Between ADHD in Children & Cell Phone Use

Possible Link Between ADHD in Children & Cell Phone UseA new study suggests a potential link between the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cell phone use. 

ADHD is a condition characterized by high levels of distraction, impulsiveness, an inability to remain still, and a tendency to be abnormally talkative.

For the study, researcher Yoon Hwan Byun of the Department of Medicine at Dankook University College of Medicine in Korea set out to discover whether radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) affect developing brains with prolonged exposure. Past research has suggested a link between prenatal cell phone exposure and the risk of conduct and behavior problems in children.

Cell phone exposure is nearly impossible to avoid, and it is important to know if the RFs of cell phones can cause or influence ADHD. Another variable in the equation are levels of lead in the blood, which seem to be higher in children with RF exposure.

For the study, Byun evaluated more than 2,400 elementary school children for ADHD symptoms and cell phone exposure through the use of parental reports.

Two years later, Byun interviewed the participants again and found that children who used cell phones for voice calls were more likely to develop symptoms of ADHD than those who didn’t.  However, this was only statistically significant in children who were also exposed to high levels of lead.

The study found that all children who played games on phones were also at increased risk for ADHD symptoms with low-lead blood level children showing particular vulnerability.

Furthermore, the children who stopped using cell phones during the study period had a much sharper decline in symptoms than those who continued using cell phones.

“Therefore, preventing the use of mobile phones in children may be one measure to keep children from developing ADHD symptoms regardless of the possible roles of mobile phone use in ADHD symptoms,” said Byun.

Byun added that although these results reveal a potential impact of RF-EMF on developing brains, there may be a reverse causality. In other words, children who spend a large amount of time playing video games may do so because of more severe ADHD symptoms, such as inattention and hyper-focusing.

The findings offer further evidence that lead exposure and RF exposure seem to increase dramatically with cell phone use. The full effect of these exposures on ADHD and other cognitive and behavioral outcomes has yet to be confirmed and further research may reveal the answers.

Source:  PLoS ONE

Child with cell phone photo available from Shutterstock

Possible Link Between ADHD in Children & Cell Phone Use

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Possible Link Between ADHD in Children & Cell Phone Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 21 Apr 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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