Which came first – media or ADHD? CcaM researchers Ine Beyens, Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, and Patti Valkenburg sought to answer to this long-standing question. They learned that it is not media use that is predicting attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Instead, ADHD behaviors (i.e., hyperactivity, impulsivity, attention problems) predict children’s (violent) media use.
Parents, health practitioners, and scholars have often expressed concern that children’s screen media use causes ADHD [media effect perspective]. Other scholars, on the other hand, have argued that ADHD behaviors increase the consumption of media, particularly violent media content [media selection perspective]. And yet, empirical work has not comprehensively looked at the potential for either (or both) of these processes.
To address this so-called "chicken or the egg problem", a team of researchers at CcaM (Beyens, Piotrowski, & Valkenburg) analyzed longitudinal parent-report data of 890 children (aged 4-8 years old). Using a random intercept cross-lagged panel model, Beyens and her colleagues investigated the potential relationships between a child's ADHD-related behaviors and a child's violent media use over a three-year-period.
Results support a media selection hypothesis, but not a media effects hypothesis. Specifically, when children experienced more ADHD-related behaviors, they subsequently consumed more violent television programs and games. The reverse was not found.
Complete reference: Beyens, I., Piotrowski, J.T., & Valkenburg, P.M. (Online First). Which came first? Assessing transactional relationships between children’s violent media use and ADHD-related behaviors. Communication Research. doi: 10.1177/0093650218782300