KipEsquire ponders whether sugar and caffeine are the root cause of the Ritalin generation. I think the increased prevalence of Ritalin is caused by the availability of Ritalin. If parents in the 60s and 70s had a socially acceptable drug that they could give their kids to get them to stop bouncing off the walls I am relatively sure they would have used it.
The other factor that plays into the [over] prescription of Ritalin is that it only costs most parents $5-10/month to keep their kids medicated. If they had to pay the full price of that prescription (I’d guess $50-$100/month) would they be as likely to use it?