The New York Times article New research finds that kids are more likely to have autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) from their exposure to media, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of California-Davis School of Medicine studied nearly 4,000 children ages six to 18, and found that exposure to negative social and media messages were linked to increased risk for ASD.
Researchers found that children who had a greater exposure to images of violence were three times more likely than children who did not to have a diagnosis of ASD.
“This is the first study to look at the effect of media violence on children’s developmental outcomes,” said lead author Dr. Elizabeth DeAngelo, a UC-Davis professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
“We were surprised to find that exposure from positive social media messages was associated with an increased risk of developing ASD.”
The study found that the greater the number of negative social media images children viewed, the more likely they were to have ASD.
Researchers say that exposure may also be linked to symptoms like social anxiety and depression.
Researchers say that while the majority of children with ASD are male, this finding may be more prevalent for boys, and this study is only one of several that has looked at exposure to positive social and other media messages.
“There is a lot of misinformation and misperceptions about autism and the media that have become widespread over the last couple of decades, and the way it’s portrayed in the media has been problematic,” DeAngelo said.
DeAngelo said that the study was done by a small team, but that her team wanted to be transparent.
She said that this was not a study to recommend specific media outlets to children.
“Our study is really about the impact of negative media on children, not a recommendation to be in particular media,” she said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are about 11,000 reported cases of autism spectrum diagnoses among children ages 6 to 12 in the United States.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.
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