Locations:
Search IconSearch

What Causes ADHD? Is it Genetic, or Is Technology a Factor?

The short answer from a pediatric behavioral health specialist

Young girl lying on couch playing on a digital tablet

Q: Do we know what causes ADHD in children?

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

A: Professional thinking at present is that ADHD is a brain-based, genetic condition. Back in the early 2000s, there were two genes associated with neurotransmitter transmission that were associated with ADHD. Now many more have been associated with the condition.

Some say ADHD symptoms have been in the population since prehistory. Popular writers suggest that these are hunter genes — that when we lived in hunter-gatherer tribes, the hunters were the ones who noticed everything, which is what the ADHD brain tends toward in the modern world.

Some people today make the case that we’re living in a world dominated by screens, and that screens are making attention spans shorter. There’s no question that screens are certainly impacting how children react to directed-attention, effortful tasks — that is, the kind of attention that we use to self-regulate and accomplish difficult work. But the real issue is not that screens are changing attention, at least as far as we know.

There are no clear studies that confirm that screens cause ADHD. That’s a myth, at least for now.

Michael Manos, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the ADHD Center for Evaluation and Treatment

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Child talking with caregiver on couch
July 12, 2024/Mental Health
Talking To Your Child About School Shooting Drills

‘Active shooter’ exercises may raise both awareness and anxiety

Child crying and screaming, with caregiver handing over a lollipop, with another caregiver with hands on head, stressed
June 27, 2024/Children's Health
How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums: Tips From an Expert

Stay calm, don’t give in and try to refocus their attention

Parent with teen live action role playing in community park, with people walking dogs in background
June 26, 2024/Children's Health
Building Resiliency: 6 Ways To Boost Your Teen’s Confidence and Coping Skills

Integrating coping skills into your teen’s daily routine helps turn self-care into a lifelong healthy habit

Caregiver kneeled down, talking with child in front of school
June 25, 2024/Children's Health
Have an Aggressive Toddler? Here’s How To Manage Their Behavior

Tantrums and meltdowns are normal, but you can help your child manage their bigger emotions

Adult in the passenger seat of car while smiling teen drives
June 19, 2024/Children's Health
Teen Not Talking? Here’s How To Break the Silence

Talking in the car, resisting the urge to judge and asking specific questions can help rebuild rapport

Baby getting nasal irrigation
June 17, 2024/Children's Health
Neti Pot for Babies: Is Nasal Irrigation Safe?

Yes, it’s safe for babies starting at about 9 months old and can help clear nasal mucus

Rainbow-colored heart hovering above healthcare provider's hand, with child sitting in exam chair
June 12, 2024/Parenting
How To Find an LGBTQIA-Friendly Pediatrician for Your Child

Local LGBT centers, online directories, visual cues and gender-affirming care or non-discrimination policies can all be helpful resources and cues

Smiling parent holding smiling baby in a pool
June 7, 2024/Children's Health
When Can Babies Go in the Pool?

Wait until they’re at least 6 months old before your little one takes their first dunk

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad