In today’s competitive world, the ability to focus has become a requisite for success.
But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, five percent of American children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impelling thousands of children to take medication such as Ritalin and Adderall. Over the years, awareness about the prevalence of ADHD has spread and the number of kids seeking treatment for ADHD has boomed. However, this upsurge of people seeking treatment has come with a rush of misdiagnoses and inappropriate uses of ADHD medication, both stemming from the inconsistent socialization of children.
Society has expectations for each gender depending on their surroundings, whether they are in a class or play environment. While boys are encouraged to be more active and confrontational, girls are taught to play less aggressively and be calmer. With such suppositions, boys and girls are not given a chance to independently learn behaviors appropriate for each environment. Thus, when a child acts unfittingly in a certain environment, he or she is referred for evaluation of behavioral problems. This results in the incorrect diagnosis of ADHD.
Those who are diagnosed with ADHD spend the majority of their day on medication and, as they become older, taking it becomes routine. Fundamentally, our society socializes children to think that being able to concentrate is essential at any cost. That demand for an efficient work ethic continues in college where students take focus-inducing drugs, even when they don’t medically require it.
For example, students turn to caffeine for help concentrating. When that doesn’t keep them awake, a can of Redbull or an Adderall suffice. We have become a heavily medicated culture of quick fixes, a coping method developed partly because of the expectations adults are placing on kids today.
But, can the inability to focus actually have a creative advantage? Yes. According to The Wall Street Journal, several studies have shown those who daydream frequently are better at generating new ideas. This research demonstrates that distractions can actually be a positive habit.
Many think the answer to solving concentration problems is by boosting the brain’s ability to control impulsive behavior with medication. But perhaps that answer has been wrong all along. Children should be given a chance to adapt to their individual emotions rather than forcing them to fulfill specific behavior expectations. And as adults, the most effective thing to do is to cultivate the imagination and use the inability to concentrate to its full advantage.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.