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When kids with LD Facebook

Page 2 of 3

By GreatSchools Staff

Additional benefits for kids with LD and AD/HD

Marshall H. Raskind, PhD, explains that online social networking can be a normalizing experience for kids with LD or AD/HD. Some research suggests that people are more willing to disclose personal information online because of the anonymity. This means kids with special needs can express themselves, including their thoughts and feelings, more easily and without fear of the rejection they may experience in real life. (Visit SparkTop.org,for examples of such creative expression.) Research also suggests that kids with learning problems may be more willing to ask for help online than in face-to-face situations.

Furthermore, Raskind explains, many kids with LD have trouble with social skills, and online social networking allows them to socialize anonymously. In fact, those they network with don't even need to know about their LD. They can assume and experiment with different personas than what other kids see at school. Kids with LD can also practice initiating and maintaining online friendships. They can respond to others, with the advantage of having time to review and edit their communication before sending it to others. This experience may carry over into real life and give them the courage and skills to make and maintain friendships in daily life.

The risks of social networking

The risks of networking online are becoming well-known, in part through media attention. Risks for children and teens include:

  • Sharing one's personal information with the wrong crowd. Unsupervised online contact with adults and older or manipulative kids can potentially lead to personal physical danger.
  • Bullying. Harassment may occur online only (cyberbullying), or it may spill over to offline bullying committed by a schoolmate who has located his victim online.
  • The permanency of online profiles. Once information has been shared on the Internet, it's out there — forever! Retrieving information that others have read and captured is nearly impossible. Sharing one's personal profile, words, pictures and videos can potentially lead to future embarrassment, harassment and even discrimination in employment and school admissions (although the latter concern is being addressed).
  • Misinformation. Kids can find inaccurate and misleading information about safe sex, drug use and racism/hate online.

Additional risks for kids with LD and AD/HD

Raskind notes that kids who have learning and attention problems may be especially vulnerable to online risks if they have traits and tendencies such as:

  • Impulsivity. A child who is impulsive may react or even hit the Ssend button before carefully reviewing his message and its meaning.
  • Misreading or misunderstanding social messages. A child who misinterprets messages from other kids online may react internally or externally in a way that is inappropriate. The combination of being oversensitive and having trouble reading could cause such a reaction.
  • Difficulty with written expression. He may also be at risk for expressing something in writing that doesn't accurately convey what he intends.
  • Loneliness. A child who craves social acceptance may be more easily lured into an unsafe online relationship. Online predators look for kids who express low self-esteem, which makes them more vulnerable.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

12/19/2011:
"There are social networking sites that are specifically targeted towards kids that have all the safety precautions that parents want. One site in particular is www.kidssocialnetwork.com. KidsSocialNetwork.com has monitors and parents and law enforcement officials are also allowed to monitor the site. There is also an online library for kids to learn so there are some educational benefits. Social Networking for kids isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it is on a site that is safe and secure for kids. "
01/15/2010:
"This is a GREAT article...I can't wait for the next one!"
03/19/2009:
"Yes, My son is dyslexic and he has found Facebook. It has opened up a new world for him. He can talk to his friends and spell words wrong. They don't care. He is writing and reading and doesn't think about it. I have total access so I can see whats going on. You as a parent must keep a close eye without being to involved. Dee"
01/29/2009:
"Extremely interesting and valuable. Thank you for posting this article. There are plenty of parental control products out there that work very well. I actually would suggest taking a look at Ez Internet Timer. No matter how much of a worry wart the parent is, this thing blocks Internet browsers, e-mails, file downloads using ftps, messengers really well. If anyone’s interested check out the site here: http://www.internettimer.net"
12/3/2008:
"The articles you present are very, very useful for me "
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