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Virtual Communication and ADHD

We’re living in a time of virtual communication. That was already somewhat true, and it’s especially true now that coronavirus is a thing and talking to people in real life isn’t.

The good news is that when it comes to virtual communication, you’ve got several options to choose from. Email? Phone? Video chat? Take your pick.

I’ve been thinking about how each medium has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of my ADHD symptoms.

Video ChatConsider the choice between talking to someone on the phone versus talking to them on video chat via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc.

One thing I like about the phone is that since the other person can’t see me, I’m free to walk around, fidget, stand up, and generally indulge my hyperactivity in ways that help keep me focused on the conversation.

On the other hand, you could make a case that when you’re on video chat, you might be less likely to zone out inattentively since the person you’re talking to is right in front of you. Along the same lines, since you have all the visual information about the person you’re talking to, video chat can be more engaging, which might help with staying focused on the conversation.

When it comes to email, I like having space to compose my thoughts and figure out how to articulate what I want to say. That’s helpful to ADHDers insofar as we sometimes struggle to put our thoughts into words coherently in the moment, or impulsively say things that don’t effectively communicate what we’re thinking.

The downside of email (and other written forms of communication like texting) is that since it’s not instantaneous, it raises the additional planning challenge of making sure you reply in a timely fashion. Things like procrastination, or remembering to read/write a given email in the first place, start to become issues.

To me, no one type of virtual communication is preferable. Depending on the context, any one option might stand out, so the trick is to figure out what virtual communication medium works best for each situation and balance your time on email, the phone, and video chat accordingly!

Image: Flickr/Underway in Ireland

Virtual Communication and ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Virtual Communication and ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Apr 2020
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