Screen Time: The Pros and Cons for Autistic Children

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The pandemic lockdown has deeply affected us all. With schools, museums, and even parks closed it can be difficult to entertain children. 

According to recent data, the average American family has increased its screen time exposure from 14 to 74%. Translated into hours, this can represent up to 8 hours in front of a screen (Laptop, Cellphone, Ipad, TV, Computer, Kindle, Video Games, Smartwatch, etc.)

Today, we will analyze the Pros and Cons of screen time exposure, plus the maximum recommended time for ASD children. 

Pros of Screen Time

In accordance with recent studies, screen exposure can be beneficial for children on the spectrum for the following reasons:

It Improves Communication: A high number of children on the spectrum have reported an increase of words due to TV exposure. In addition, it can help children improve their social skills by giving them common ground with other children.

It Represents a Reward: Many parents on the spectrum report that screen time can be treated as a reward for their child to help them understand if a particular behavior is appreciated or not. 

It Can Be Calming: When exposed to a stressful or overstimulating environment, screens can help easing anxiety. According to researcher Dr. Paul Shattuck, there are many benefits associated with using digital devices. Video games, for instance, provide repetition of a particular scenario, which can be soothing for ASD children.

It Can Improve Learning:  Classrooms can be stressful. In this case, digital devices can become really helpful when it comes to providing ASD children with a comfortable scenario to learn on their own. 

Cons of Screen Time 

On the opposite, children with autism can be especially vulnerable to the negative effects of screen time. 

This constant exposure can develop an Electronic Screen Syndrome. This can be characterized by the following symptoms:

-Insomnia

-Hyperactivity

-Bipolarity

-Stress

-Anxiety

Etc

In addition, in an article on Psychology Today, the author, Victoria L. Dunckley, states that “children with autism are extra vulnerable to screen time effect.” Since children with autism are prone to sleep disturbances, screen time affects their sleeping patterns even more. Furthermore, autism causes inflammation of the nervous system. Too much screen time causes the same effect on children by releasing stress hormones.

Moderation is Key 

After analyzing the benefits and downsides of screen time, it is important to determine how much is enough. Taking into consideration that due to lock down most of the activities have to take place indoors, we recommend you to stick to three hours a day as the maximum time limit for using digital devices.

In addition, we recommend you to set specific time frames for it. A good time could be before dinner, and never pass 8 pm or 30 minutes before going to bed due to sleep disturbances.

We also encourage you to use this as a reward for not-as-fun task completion, after finishing activities as cleaning, homework, etc.

Remember, three hours is the maximum time limit for screen exposure. The following table should help as a guideline on how much time children should have:

Age(years)
Recommended Screen Time(hours/day)
3-5
0.5-1
5-7
1-1.5
7-12
1-1.5
12-15
1.5-2
16+
2

 

Keep in mind that screen exposure can be fun and even positive when used with moderation. In addition, we highly encourage you to monitor your child´s interactions with the help of controlling software that inform you of all of their usages and exposures. 

How do you manage your childrens screen interactions? Share it with us!

At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.

 Remember, you are not alone!

https://worldstemcellsclinic.com/

 

Sources:

https://theautismblog.seattlechildrens.org/autism-and-screen-time/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201612/autism-and-screen-time-special-brains-special-risks

https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/screen-time-kids-with-asd/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/11/14/autism-screen-time-benefits_a_23588657/