How Technology Can Help with ADHD

Technology is no doubt distracting. Our phones are constantly buzzing with notifications, and apps are vying for our attention so they can increase their revenue from advertisers. Shows are increasingly binge-worthy, video games have evolved to the graphical fidelity of live-action films, and the endless sea of content gets larger and larger each day. For people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who already struggle to focus, the engrossing pull of technology is all the stronger.

Numerous studies have analyzed the impact of technology on those with ADHD, with one study from 2011 concluding that children with ADHD were more inclined to become addicted to internet usage and media consumption.1 Obviously, a fair bit has changed in the world since then, and our relationships with the internet and technology have as well.

Technology Can Actually Be Helpful for ADHD Symptoms

Despite a vocal minority shouting that the internet has rotted children’s brains, most people simply use the internet for checking their emails, reading articles, watching videos, messaging friends, or running their businesses.

Historically, this was all done on a computer. Now, we have watches that can do all of these and more. They can detect irregularities in our heart rates and automatically phone the paramedics. They remind us to do simple, often forgotten things like drinking water or standing up for a minute. Even non-wearable technology offers us numerous methods of better managing our lives if we set it up properly.

For example, given my ADHD, I often lose track of which tasks I need to complete on any given day. I forget deadlines, or I neglect to respond to urgent emails. It’s been said before, but one of the biggest benefits technology offers us is the ability to take things that were once confined to a single space — a calendar, for example — or things that are impractical to carry with us at all times — a notebook — and bring them with us wherever we go.

Rather than filling out pages and pages of notebooks with to-do lists, and inevitably rewriting the same to-do several days in a row, it’s far easier for me to download an app on my phone and check things off as I go along, shuffle them around, or add new items as needed. If I don’t know my availability, I can simply check my calendar app to see if I’m free.

Even beyond the obvious, though, there are ways technology can help those of us with ADHD out. If you don’t live alone, or perhaps work in a busy office, the ability to have music with you wherever you are — or even better, apps that play sounds to help you focus — is a major bonus. Setting a notification to remind you to drink water can yield short and long-term health benefits, especially if you’re prone to forget about hydrating when you’re hyperfocused on a task.

Technology can help us to make tasks more interesting, too. Take your average household chore like vacuuming, dusting, or folding laundry for example. These things are inherently not fun. They’re repetitive, non-stimulating, and unengaging — in fact, a 2021 study found an adverse correlation between ADHD and the ability to complete household chores.2 But by putting on a podcast you enjoy or listening to a book, if that’s more your speed, you give yourself something else to engage with beyond the chore itself and, by proxy, making them less of a chore.

If I had to narrow it down to three essentials I feel everyone with ADHD should have on their phone, they would be:

  • An app to keep track of your to-do lists, preferably one with the option to organize to-dos into different categories such as “work” and “personal”
  • A calendar app that allows for quick and easy event entry — the simpler, the better
  • An app for audiobooks and/or podcasts to help make mundane tasks like cleaning or mowing the lawn more enjoyable

I’m sure there are numerous other and more effective ways people have used technology to help manage their ADHD, too. If you happen to have any personal tricks, hacks, or methods you use, leave a comment letting me know!

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