Today’s youth are now more than ever using a wide variety of screen-based media sources, such as TV, video games, and the Internet. Recent research has found that over 90% of youth between the ages of 12 to 17 use the Internet, and a vast majority have access to their own cellphones, TV, computers, and/or video game consoles (Jones & Fox, 2009; Strasburger, Jordan, & Donnerstein, 2010). Perhaps more importantly, research has found that children and adolescents are spending a substantial amount of time using screen-based media, engaging in media use more than they do in any other activity other than sleeping (Strasburger et al., 2010). In particular, use of social media sources, such as Facebook, Instagram, email, or chatting, is especially popular among today’s youth who use these outlets to communicate and socialize with their peers.
Like their typically developing peers, students with disabilities also enjoy using screen-based media. In the largest study examining use of screen-based media in students with disabilities to date, researchers analyzed data on more than 1,000 special education students diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), cognitive impairment, speech/language impairment, or learning disability between the ages of 13 and 16 (Mazurek, Shattuck, Wagner, & Cooper, 2012). They found that 64% of adolescents with ASD spent the majority of their free time engaging in non-social media-based activities (such as watching TV and playing video or computer games), while students with other disabilities were almost two times more likely to use social media sources.
These findings are important and suggest that media use may vary between children and adolescents with different interests, strengths, and challenges. However, there are a variety of things that parents can do to promote healthy use of media and facilitate positive outcomes on adolescents’ development and well-being.
-Jones, S. & Fox, S. Generations Online in 2009. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center; 2009.
-Available at: www.pewinternet.org//media//Files/Reports/2009/PIPGenerations2009.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2015.
-Jordan, A., Bleakley, A., Manganello, J., Hennessy, M., Stevens, R., & Fishbein, M. (2010). The role of television access in viewing time of U.S. adolescents. Journal of Children and Media, 4(4), 355-370. doi: 10.1080/17482798.2010.510004.
-Kuo, M. H., Orsmond, G. I., Coster, W. J., & Cohn, E. S. (2014). Media use among adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 18(8), 914-923. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1651859352?accountid=12598
-Strasburger, V. C., Jordan, A. B., & Donnerstein, E. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 125(4), 756-767. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2009-2563