Ask the Experts

Should I Pull the Plug on TV?

“I am a 33-year-old adult with ADHD, and I watch several hours of TV a night. I think it calms me down after a long day, but most of what I read discourages me from watching so much. Does watching TV have a positive effect on ADHD?”

Some research shows that TV-watching has negative effects on ADHD symptoms.

A long-term New Zealand study concluded that “…children who watch a lot of television may become less tolerant of slower-paced and more mundane tasks, such as schoolwork.” Similarly, the National Institute Of Mental Health reported that “extensive exposure to television… may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention.” These studies were done with children, but it seems reasonable that TV could have similar effects on adults.

There are concerns about the blue light emitted by electronic screens, including TV. The light is believed to inhibit melatonin production in the brain, and melatonin promotes sleep.

However, many adults with ADHD, particularly those with hyperactivity, have difficulty relaxing. TV is an easy way to unwind at the end of the day. Who hasn’t fallen asleep in front of the TV? If TV calms your mind and body, that’s certainly a good thing.

Like many things related to ADHD, the key is to find what works for you. Think about expanding your repertoire of relaxation activities to include reading, guided meditation, or ADHD-friendly yoga techniques.

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  1. Interesting as I am one who witnessed the coming of TV to our city about a century ago coinciding with my 10 th birthday. It also coincided with my conclusion that school was a place to do schoolwork and home was a place to relax, listen to music and watch TV. Of course I had a number of chores to do and a job from the age of 12 on. Unless I finished it at school, homework was missing from my education. TV however, became a goto activity with my dad, he was in his 60s by then. BUT TV 📺 was black and white in those days.

    Until recently with retirement and age and lots and lots of pills i had never had trouble sleeping. Even while drinking 1.5 to 3 quarts of coffee a day (more accurate measure than cups given the plethora of cup sizes) I had no trouble crashing and being asleep in less than a minute.
    As time went by and homework increased it became harder and harder to complete the work in class and many times it was not completed. I would rush just before class started, to fill in at least some of the work, but became selective about what time was spent on. If it was math or history or science physics or chemistry, total recall made it much easier to whip through the answers. However drama, lit, and english were more difficult. Eventually accused of cheating when in the spring I was caught with nothing but doodles in my notebook. My father was called in and I was forced to copy a complete set of school year to date (april) History notes. My exemptions from having to write finals were cancelled and the teacher did not return my notes.
    At the finals It took me less than the minimum time to write the exam (grade 10 history). To prove this was not copying anyone elses, I slammed my pen down and waited. This was a memory exam for someone who a year later tested for the army and was told he had 160+ IQ. As you can guess once again this exam was aced. Unfortunately this did not prepare me for Grade 11 or even for that matter grade 10 Lit which I failed. They were on to me and a new school, new suburb and new rules reulted in my suspension on my 16 th birthday in grade 11 in November.
    As living at home required attending school or paying board and room a job became essential. I soon learned that a job with these credentials did not pay enough to cover the car bought the following spring, Board, and anything else. The army was the only place I could earn a living and fortunately complete my high school in a special program. It never did teach me to work from home. It did teach me of the consequences of going AWOL ( technically “Desertion” as I left the country to attend a concert and took two others with me who never returned. I was 17, they were 16
    Throughout my civilian career I stayed at work, at times beyond midnight, to complete reports and other tasks.
    The lessons from the Army were just what was needed to go with a less than complete highschool resumé. Though trained as an acountant voluntering for the Airborne ( yes even the accountants jump) Involved bonus risk pay. The penchant for independence was temperred by discipline and upon leaving almost 5 years later I started real work in the actuarial pension and benefits field. Eventually founding a consulting firm and succeeding beyond my greatest expectations. Technically only a complete grade 8 or 9 employing actuaries and lecturing at university.
    I am not sure TV played as major a part in this as the ADHD which was diagnosed just before my 71st birthday two years ago.

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