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Teaching Your ADHD Teen Appropriate Computer Behavior

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Teaching Your ADHD Teen Appropriate Computer Behavior

Is your child one of the 10.4 Million children in the U.S. diagnosed with ADHD? According to a recent study, the number of kids diagnosed with ADHD has risen dramatically by 66% since 2000.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders today. Usually, it is first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may exhibit problems paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors by acting without thinking about what the consequence will be, or be overly active. These kids may also have a trouble regulating attention by over focusing. They may have a difficult time stopping something that’s stimulating, such as playing computer games or surfing the web, which may interfere with homework.

ADHD Does Not Affect Intelligence

ADHD may impact school work and learning, but it’s important to know that ADHD does not affect intelligence. Some of the most accomplished people and intellectuals have had ADHD, including Walt Disney, clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger, and Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medalist.

ADHD Kids Are More Impulsive

Children and teens with ADHD are impulsive and may not make the best decisions when it comes to computer activity. Impulsivity can cause them to act before thinking through their actions, putting them at risk for consequences and potential harm. Sexting, posting inappropriate comments, providing identifying information that makes them vulnerable to online predators and identity theft, as well as talking with strangers in chatrooms are all risks when children go online, and even more so for kids with ADHD.

[Find a local therapeutic program for your teen with ADHD]

ADHD Kids Are More Vulnerable to Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is more likely to be a problem for children and teens that have ADHD. Parents may be unaware that their child is being cyberbullied. Unfortunately, research shows that there is a vast disconnect between children’s online activities and parents’ awareness of these activities. “The lack of supervision increases a victims’ vulnerability and allows bullying to continue unchecked,” say Doctors Kowalski & Fedina. Parents need to pay attention because cyberbullying can have a tremendous emotional and devastating impact on a child.

What Can Parents Do?

  1. Help your child learn time management by limiting time on the computer. All kids (and adults too) can be sucked into the time-sink of the computer, and ADHD kids need more assistance with learning to self-limit time and regulate attention when on the computer.
  2. Establish a routine. Kids with ADHD benefit from structure. Allow your teen some fool-around time after school and then specific time for just homework.
  3. ADHD kids have trouble focusing and staying on task. This becomes a problem when kids are doing homework online. Monitor their computer activity, by checking in live, so that you can teach them to stay on task and not be distracted by playing a game, going on Facebook or watching a video.
  4. Impulsive behavior may lead teens to behave online in ways that you wouldn’t approve of. Go over a code of conduct online with your teen and monitor their online behavior and activity to make sure they are behaving safely and appropriately. When they show you that they are using the computer according to the rules you have set, make sure you reinforce their positive actions.
  5. Kids with ADHD have trouble organizing and finishing tasks. Teach them these life skills by monitoring their homework activity to make sure they are focusing on homework and completing assignments.
  6. Monitor your child’s computer activity and behavior to make sure they are not being cyberbullied. Be supportive and listen to your child. If they are being cyberbullied let them know that it’s not their fault. Save cyberbullying incidents for authorities so that you eliminate the “he said, she said” problem.
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