Monday, January 18, 2010

Media Monday: Innaugural Edition

The issue of children and digital media is a controversial one, but also a vital issue in this age of computer, televisions, dvr, mp3, Internet capable telephones, texting, computer games, video games, etc.; and it’s an especially important issue for those of us who have or work with children with social deficits, such as Asperger Syndrome (AS). Whether or not you believe that violent programming and gaming content contributes to delinquency and violent behavior (and I certainly don’t feel qualified to pass judgment in that arena), I think we can all agree that something so ubiquitous, that our children spend so much time exposed to is going to have an affect on our children’s development.

For our Aspie kids, the issue of digital media takes on a whole new dimension of relevance. Children with AS are drawn to repetitive behavior with a high degree of personal control (read: video and computer games), and sensitivities to physical stimuli often further limit their initial interest in less passive forms of entertainment (read: interpersonal interaction, especially outdoors). Moreover, children with AS often have difficulty finding the line between fantasy and reality, fiction and nonfiction, making it very easy for them to take the programming they see too literally. Still, parents have to choose their battles, and the battle for control of the computer/remote/console can often seem unwinnable. And if the child is watching TV or playing a game, at least they aren’t tearing up the house, right?

The purpose of this weekly column is to present parents with information—the key to gaining the upper hand in your household. We will discuss research about children and media exposure, strategies for controlling “screen time” in your family, ways to help your child understand appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior they observe through digital media, and how to keep your kids safe on the net. If there is a specific topic you would like to see covered, PLEASE leave a comment or email us with your request. We would also LOVE to see this column used as a discussion topic over on the Facebook page. Do you agree or disagree with the content? Why? What information was missing from the article? In what ways is the content relevant to your life?

That said (and I know it’s a lot), I’m going to keep this week’s topic brief. I found this article on, and it seems to be a good overview of the concerns voiced by both education and medical professionals of the risks of excessive screen time. There is a similar article published by the FCC, but I can’t find the link right now. When I do, I will post it. In any case, I think it’s good food for thought. So, please, go look over the article and then consider the following questions:

  • Do you agree with the article? In whole or in part?
  • Where do you disagree specifically? Why?
  • Do you see anything specific in the article that reminds you of your child and household? What?
  • While the article focuses pretty heavily on television, how do you think it translates to gaming and the Internet?

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