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Diagnosing a Different Kind of Social Disease

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October 8, 2022The social isolation of the pandemic predictably led to rampant feelings of loneliness, despair, and apathy among adolescents in the prime of their social-skills development, and the troubling effects of shuttered schools and canceled activities continue to linger.In a new ADDitude survey of 1,187 caregivers, half said their adolescent’s “friendships and/or other relationships have deteriorated” over the last two to three years, and that their child continues to be unmotivated to participate in sports, clubs, or other activities — even now that a relatively normal school year is underway.

The pandemic’s stark and sudden interruption of kids’ social development has cast a long shadow, especially for those with ADHD who may already struggle to make and keep friends.For many who graduated from high school at the peak of the pandemic, memories of their final years sting. “I missed out on important developmental changes and interactions,” said a 19-year-old survey respondent diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder.[Click to Read: Safeguarding ADHD Youth Against Depression in the Age of COVID]A mother of a 10-year-old in New Jersey said her son is no longer interested in “parties or events with friends he used to hang with, and he worries about things that he doesn’t need to think about, including family money and our house flooding again.”For many children cut off from friends and activities, social media became a lifeline during the pandemic.

According to the ADDitude survey, 72 percent of kids aged 10 and older who have ADHD use social media today. Of those, 35 percent reported adverse mental health effects, including anxiety, sadness, sleep problems, and depression.

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