The Very Complicated Relationship Between ADHD and Social Media

Social media is an exciting virtual playground, where users can explore new ideas, visit chatrooms with people who share the same passions, interests, and beliefs, and obtain answers to burning questions. Not surprisingly, this communication tool also brings with it many challenges, chief among which include concerns about predators, addiction to screens, and disruption of daily function. For the neurodivergent population, social media poses specific challenges, some of which exacerbate the symptoms with which they already struggle without the use of social media. This blog post highlights some of those challenges and offers some suggestions to counter them.

Time Blindness:

One of the biggest challenges people who have ADHD struggle with is time blindness. The inability to perceive and track time is incredibly frustrating for this population. Ten minutes feels just the same as two hours, consequently, estimating how long a particular task or assignment will take is challenging. The elusive nature of time makes planning one’s day quite difficult. When social media is thrown into the mix, all bets are off. Students tell me they take breaks from their homework and hop onto a social media platform with the intention of scrolling through posts for “just five minutes.” However, given the enticing nature of these platforms, one swipe leads to another; one “like” leads to a comment, which leads to a reply, which sparks a question, and the poor kid is falling down the rabbit hole of Instagram posts. Two hours later, she can’t understand how so much time has passed and she wrestles with the choice to stay up late to finish the project whose deadline has already passed or go to bed to get some desperately needed rest.

Suggestion: Avoid social media altogether during times designated for work. These platforms are addictive and irresistible by nature. Why tempt yourself to get pulled off track? Outsmart yourself! If you need a break when you are working, first designate a set period to do so and decide ahead of time what that break will consist of. Set timers to remind you to exit your platform of choice. Utilize software that blocks certain platforms, or literally cuts you off from your connection after a while.

  • Here are some other ideas:
  • Take a walk or go for a run.
  • Walk the dog-your parents will definitely approve of that idea!
  • Get a snack and a drink of water.
  • Read the newspaper-the actual hardcopy version, not the digital one. (Nice try!)
  • Talk with a friend on a landline-you know, the phone that’s hanging on your wall in your kitchen-assuming your family still has a landline. If not, don’t use your phone to call someone as this could lead to checking your social media.
  • Clean your room.
  • Bake something.
  • Set the table-another task that will meet with parent/guardian approval!
  • Create something-draw, paint, throw pottery on the pottery wheel, build a model of something, build some parts of a computer, write a poem or short story.


the rush we get when we participate in exciting activities can be addictive. This stimulation can extend to social media including Instagram reels, Twitter feeds, videos, etc. With the flood of visual enticements flooding our screens, impulse control can go out the window. Considering that, on the average day in the world of ADHD, controlling one’s behavior is already difficult enough without any help from social media, adding a an easily accessible activity can open the floodgates of excitement, sending even the most relaxed mind into stimulation overdrive.

Suggestion: You are clearly resourceful if you have found people to follow who pique your curiosity right? So, use these well-established skills to explore equally exciting and novel activities to investigate in the actual world.

  • Hike around a lake.
  • Learn about fly fishing and master this art.
  • Research (Go ahead, use the internet to do so!) locations and events that are popular in your hometown and experience them to find out why so many people like them.
  • If you are an artist or a music aficionado, find some local fairs that are taking place and check out the artists.
  • Go sample the goods at a local farmer’s market.
  • Train for an athletic event-marathon, half marathon, walk, bike, skate. Invite your friends to join you-the more the merrier!

Social Interactions:

It is not unusual for people with ADHD to struggle socially, their very active and “noisy” minds prevent them from picking up on social cues. Their impulsivity is a turnoff to others. Social media provides a safe way to interact with others, particularly if the chat rooms are a gathering place for people who share similar struggles or interests. When engaging with others on social media, be sure to follow some guidelines:


  • Only engage with people you know.
  • Do not share personal information with anyone unless you know them.
  • NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES agree to meet with anyone you do not know and certainly do not meet with someone alone-bring a friend or adult with you.
  • Be respectful with the language you use and the posts you make…don’t post anything you would not want your grandmother to see.
  • Remember, your social media posts are like squishing toothpaste from the tube. Once it’s out, you can put it back in, so be sure whatever you are about to post won’t be something you regret the next day.
  • Practice in-person interactions too:
    • Order food at a restaurant.
    • Get groceries at the grocery store.
    • Go for a walk in your neighborhood.
    • Work out in the gym.
    • Hang out at the park.
    • Make small talk with your postal service person when they deliver your mail.
    • Help your neighbor.
    • Invite a friend over to hang out.

Endurance/Higher threshold for frustration

– the very nature of social media is instantaneous gratification. Think about it: we get immediate answers to our questions when we search Google. Shopping has never been easier, especially when we use Amazon-no sooner do we place an order than it arrives the next day, and you can do this all within the confines of your family room as you sit and stream shows on your tv or computer. While these features are certainly convenient, they have lowered our tolerance for frustration and compromised our endurance. Tasks that take concerted effort and time become increasingly unbearable. How do we build these muscles back up?

Suggestion: Engage in activities that require patience:

  • Bake
  • Build something (birdhouse, model car tech-savvy kids can build a computer)
  • Put a small puzzle together-start with 25 pieces and move up to 50, 150, 250, 500
  • Take a walk
  • Sit in your backyard or a park for 15 minutes and notice everything taking place around you using your five senses.

No one is telling you not to engage with social media; it is incredibly helpful and entertaining in many ways. But if we are being honest, it does bring challenges to the ADHD mind. By being proactive and engaging in some of these activities, you can balance the benefits of this virtual reality with a healthy lifestyle.