Kristen Harrison, PhD (Richard Cole Eminent Professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, University of North Carolina), discusses research investigating the link between high levels of media use for sensory curation and family conflict in #AskTheExperts webinar “Nurturing the Neurodivergent: Unique Considerations for Youth Screen Use” on February 6, 2024.

Read the Video Transcript

[Dr. Kristen Harrison]: We suspected that sensory curation would be linked to family media conflict since what is regulating for one person it may be dysregulating for another. Again, think of picky eating, two people may be picky but odds are very slim that they are picky in exactly the same way. So this occupational therapy meme sums it up nicely, “Billy, listen. I’m tactile seeking and you’re tactile defensive. Either we go see an occupational therapist or this relationship is over.” So for our research we measured the frequency of conflict over child media use for five devices: TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, and gaming console. Then we placed parent/child pairs into four groups according to how they scored on our sensory curation measures. “Both low” – the green bar, means that neither parent nor child is particular about their media arrangements. “Both high” – the pink bar, means they both are, and then the purple and blue bars represent the middle – “parent high child low,” “parent low child high”. So let’s see what it looks like. The green line on the line graph represents conflict happening about once a month. The pink line represents conflict happening about once a week. So children who are high sensory curators are experiencing conflict up to four times as frequently as children who are low sensory curators. This is especially important for neurodivergent families because high sensory curation is significantly more common among neurodivergent kids than typically-developing kids. So in our sample the neurodivergent kids were mostly those with autism and ADHD diagnoses, and about 40% of those kids were high sensory curators.

View the full webinar

Ask the Experts—Webinar

Nurturing the Neurodivergent: Unique Considerations for Youth Screen Use

What should parents and caregivers know about the unique risks and opportunities for neurodivergent youth when introducing and monitoring the use of digital media?

Brain and Cognition
Social Relationships