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Digital Attachment Objects: Parent-Child Media Conflict Among Children with and Without Sensory Diagnoses

Keywords: screen media, children, parents, conflict, sensory, autism, uses and gratifications

Published onNov 03, 2021
Digital Attachment Objects: Parent-Child Media Conflict Among Children with and Without Sensory Diagnoses
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Abstract

Sensory curation theory (Harrison et al., 2019) holds that media devices can help users maintain sensory regulation in dysregulating environments, and that one of the reasons children may become attached to their media devices is the devices’ capacity to modify environmental sensory input to support the child’s sensory comfort. Media sensory curation is the process of selecting and rejecting media content, devices, settings, peripherals, and environments to balance sensory input across modalities, especially those engaged with audiovisual media: sight, sound, and touch. Parents (N = 1543) of 3-17-year-olds selected one child and completed measures of child media sensory curation and child sensory diagnosis (chiefly autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder, n = 99) and described their most challenging media conflict with that child. Media sensory curation was higher and conflict more frequent and severe among diagnosed children, but diagnosis played a protective role in logistic regression analyses predicting the presence of moderate to severe conflict. This suggests that parents of children with highly selective sensory media preferences but no sensory-relevant diagnosis may be less patient with their child’s media selectivity than parents of diagnosed children, who may understand their child’s selectivity through the lens of the child’s diagnosis. In families with moderate to severe media conflict, parents of both diagnosed and undiagnosed children appeared to locate the source of the problem within the child.



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