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By GreatSchools Staff
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 networking online are becoming well-known, in part through media attention. Risks for children and teens include:
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:
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