Top Tips for Handing Screen Time in Children with Autism

By raluca.olariu@…, 14 February, 2023
little girl playing on smartphone

Screen time can be a difficult issue to manage for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.

With the ever-increasing presence of technology in our lives, it is important to find ways to ensure that screen time is used responsibly and safely.

This article will provide tips for handling screen time in children with autism so that parents can feel confident that their child is getting the most out of their digital experiences.

By following these tips, parents can help their children develop healthy habits around technology use and create a positive environment for learning and growth.

Pros and cons of screen time for children with autism

Screen time can provide a safe and comfortable environment for children with autism to explore their interests and learn new skills.

Navigating digital devices can also be an educational tool, providing access to interactive activities that help children develop cognitive, language, and motor skills.

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On the other hand, too much screen time can lead to decreased physical activity, social interaction, and sleep. Many children with autism with autism spectrum disorders are sensitive and can be triggered by multiple stimuli.

As digital devices can be sensory overwhelming, it is important to monitor screen time and ensure that it is used safely and responsibly.

Getting too immersed in digital worlds can further impact children with autism's social relationships and harm their social behavior. 

The good news is that the effects of screen time can be managed with the right strategies.

How to Handle Screen Time for Your Child with Autism: 5 Tips

It can be challenging to manage screen time for children with autism, but some tips can help.

Here are five strategies that can help you win the battle against digital devices:

1. Establish Clear Rules and Boundaries

Setting clear rules and boundaries regarding screen time for children with autism is imperative. Parents should decide on a daily limit for screen time, as well as the types of activities that are allowed. This will help children understand what is expected of them and provide structure for their digital experiences.

Moreover, parents should be aware of the content their child is accessing and ensure that it is age-appropriate.

2. Monitor Daily Screen Time Usage

Parents should monitor their children’s daily screen time to ensure that they are not overusing electronic devices (especially with video games). This can be done by setting timers or using parental control apps to track usage. Monitoring daily screen time usage will give you a clear idea of how much digital time your child receives and helps reinforce the rules set on screen time usage.

3. Encourage Positive Digital Experiences

Encouraging positive digital experiences is key to helping children with autism get the most out of their screen time. Educational apps and games tailored to a child’s interests and abilities can provide positive digital experiences.

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It can help them develop new skills while having fun at the same time. Many parents encourage their children to use digital devices for creative activities such as drawing or music-making. 

4. Provide Alternatives to Screen Time

Providing alternatives to screen time for children with autism can support electronic device management much better.

Parents can encourage their children to engage in activities that do not involve digital devices, such as playing board games, reading books, or engaging in outdoor activities. These activities can help children develop social skills and foster creativity. What is more, a good thing to keep in mind is ensuring that children have access to various activities and experiences.

5. Have Children Learn from Your Example

It's no secret that children learn best from imitating their parents.

Use that conditioning to teach your children about digital minimalism. Try to become mindful of your digital habits and practice them with your children. Setting a good example will help children understand the importance of limiting screen time and encourage them to follow the rules set by their parents.  

Growing Up in a Digital World

Growing up in a digital world can be both exciting and challenging for children with autism.

On one hand, digital devices can provide access to a wealth of information and resources to help them learn and grow.

On the other hand, too much screen time can lead to negative effects such as sleep deprivation, distraction from important tasks, less physical activity, and social isolation.

However, with the tips above, you can help your child with autism make the most out of the digital world. 

Photo credit: Unsplash.