There is some disagreement among child development experts as to whether screen based social interactions represent a cataclysmic departure from social norms, heralding the end of social interaction as we know it, or a new exciting kind of interactive experience, superior to face to face interaction because your friends and family are only a click away.
My opinion is somewhere in between these two extremes. As you might have guessed from the eHangouts service offered by Kids Cooperate (facilitated online social time), I believe that new media tools can be powerful catalysts for social-emotional growth.
I believe that context is the most important principle in human development and processes of change and growth. In the case of online social interaction, context is a double edged sword. On one hand tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, Oovoo, and Facetime strip out the environmental context of interaction that we use as focus points in our weekly social skills groups for children with Autism and ADHD. On the other hand they provide a new context, one that is enclosed, clearly defined, and brings focus to the face. For children on the Autism Spectrum and with ADHD, there are clear advantages to this.