Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment of adults with ADHD
Social Media Success With ADHD
Tweet? Post? Blog? Chat? ADHD might lead you to waste a lot of time on these pursuits. But used correctly, social networking could be your lifeline to sources of ADHD support and cutting-edge information.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Social networking sites were always perfect forums for Judi Knight's microbursts of creativity. She says she happily connected with friends and family on Facebook, a site that suited her limited attention span, and she drew immediate “likes” for her witty observations and jokes.
But it wasn’t until just last year, when Knight, now 44, was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication for ADHD management, that she was fully able to explore her creative side in a deeper way. She’s even been able to expand how she uses social media to include her own blog, Diary of an Inattentive Poster Girl.
“I always wanted to be a writer,” says Knight. But she didn’t understand why she could never stick with a writing project - until her 11-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD and she realized that his ADHD symptoms were hers as well.
“The fact that I have a blog with more than one post is because of the ADHD medication,” she says. Her blog covers the trials and tribulations of a busy working mother who has ADHD, and she says she’s had tremendous feedback from other women in similar situations. “I think the hardest part is that we all think we’re going through ADHD alone,” Knight says.
For Knight and many others with ADHD, social media provide a creative outlet that offers personal benefits as well. A review of posts from 25 Facebook groups related to ADHD, published in theJournal of Adolescent Health, showed that teens and young adults with a diagnosis of ADHD are using social media as a way to form a positive group identity and get support for living with ADHD.
On the other hand, unlimited social networking carries the chance of significant distraction whether you have ADHD or not. So can you find a happy medium with this medium? Experts agree that with the right approach, you can make social media work for you.
The Good, the Bad, and the Distracting
Social media offer the pleasures of connection and humor that Knight has found as well as potential pitfalls you’ll want to sidestep. These include:
- Getting distracted.It happens to the best of us - a friend posts a link to the latest hot video, you click on it, and you’re off and running in cyberspace, chasing links and blog posts.
- Losing track of time.“People with ADHD generally underestimate how long it takes to do things,” explains ADHD specialist Mark A. Stein, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. You also can simply lose track of time, wandering through social networking sites for hours instead of tending to chores or relationships.
- Responding too quickly.Because of impulsivity, you might type out the first thing you think of, hit return - and sign on for days or years of regret. “It helps to ask if anyone, including you, is going to be embarrassed by your post,” advises Stein.
- Avoiding face-to-face interactions.Social media allow a quick response and the illusion of intimacy. People with ADHD sometimes have relationship problems and are tempted to opt for social networking with “friends” over real-life experiences, like a lunch date. Aim for balance between these two parallel universes.
Savvy Strategies for Social Networking
Here are better ways to surf social media turf with ADHD:
- Develop a thicker skin.“People with ADHD tend to be socially sensitive,” says Knight. “But the Internet is a volatile place.” Before you fire off a response to the latest nitpicky critic or anonymous comment, remember that it’s probably not about you.
- Count to 10.Sure, you can “like” your elementary school BFF’s quote of the day, but when hot-button issues inspire you to share your opinion immediately, don’t. Walk away and post a more thoughtful comment later if you still want to respond.
- Consolidate sites. Use a tool, like TweetDeck or HootSuite, that allows you to post to multiple social network interfaces instead of trying to keep up with all of them separately.
- Sound the alarm.Stein points out that most of the tools you use for social networking have functions like alarms, alerts, and calendars to help you be better organized. Use them.
- Ration your time.Stein advises setting rules for your social networking, such as sitting down to check in only after you’ve finished your necessary chores or the kids have gone to bed.
- Join ADHD communities.You can find a number of ADHD pages on Facebook, follow ADHD-related Twitter feeds, and join blogging communities of people with ADHD who support one another and share the latest research news and tips for ADHD management.
Ultimately, says Stein, social media can be a good way to interact, connect, learn things, and get feedback. So stay connected - just lay down a few ground rules for yourself first.
Video: Living with ADHD in the age of information and social media | Theo Siggelakis | TEDxQuinnipiacU
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