Beliefs About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Response to Stereotypes: Youth Postings in Facebook Groups



      Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood psychiatric disorder characterized by abnormal levels of hyperactivity and distractibility. However, very few studies have been conducted to examine how youth with ADHD view themselves in the context of their disorder. The aim of this project was to examine what youth think about having ADHD by collecting data in a naturalistic setting — a popular social networking site.


      Using ethnographic content analysis, we examined text from 25 public, English-language Facebook groups with “ADHD” in the title. The groups chosen were those that were either created or administered by someone with a current high school or university affiliation and had at least 100 members. To capture narratives from youth, postings between September 1, 2006, and April 30, 2007 were examined; postings from individuals who self-identified as high school or university students were included.


      The dominant theme that was identified (202 of 479 coded items) concerned the collective construction of a positive group identity. The Facebook groups functioned like electronic support groups, with members providing support to one another and sharing experiences and information, including advice about medication. Many jokes referencing ADHD stereotypes were posted.


      Youth used the supportive environment of an electronic group to develop a positive group identity and to reject negative aspects of common stereotypes related to young people with ADHD.


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