otsimo special education
October 20, 2020

Screen Time and Kids with Special Needs

Hello everyone. My name is Chantal Chaaban and I’m a recent graduate from San Diego State University and I got my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Today I’m going to be talking to you about screen time and kids with special needs.

Growing fear amongst all parents nowadays is that their kids are going to get too addicted to technology. No matter how much they try to distance them from technology, it seems like there’s no escape. Even kids themselves nowadays seem to levitate towards technology before they’re able to speak.

Parents with kids who have autism spectrum disorder may have additional fears due to the characteristics and behaviors of the disorder that put their children at a higher risk than typically developing children. These characteristics and behaviors include limited social skills, limited communication skills, trouble sleeping, and repetitive behavior loops that may get the kids dependent on devices in a very unhealthy manner. So, these are all very valid fears, especially since there seems to be no escape from all this stuff.

However, it’s really important that we remember the positive side of the technology. If we begin to reclaim screen time, we can actually use it to our kids’ advantage. If done right, screen time can be very educational and even support your kid’s social development. Today I’m going to be listing some ways in which you can administer screen time in a beneficial manner.

Tip #1: Monitor

Tip number one is to monitor what your child is watching and make sure it is informative. Videos and games that require your child to interact with them rather than just sit and stare can help your child’s brain and motor skills improve. Apps like Otsimo are a great example. They offer an array of interactive games such as playing musical instruments, practicing senses and emotions, drawing shapes, and coloring.

Tip #2: Repetition and Routine

Tip number two is that kids work well with repetition and routine. Instead of using screen time as a distraction, try to have a consistent daily schedule for screen time. Try to administer screen time when social interaction is low throughout the day. Maybe reward the child with screen time after they’ve demonstrated good behavior and just make sure screen time isn’t administered before bed as that can be too stimulating and disrupt their sleep pattern. Apps like Otsimo have features that make it easy to track the average daily screen time. The recommended amount is usually about 8 to 30 minutes a day.

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Tip #3: Discussing with Child

Tip number three is to discuss the videos or games that your child is interacting with. Some would even advise you to sit down and watch it with them. You can answer the questions that are being posed with the videos or pose your own questions or just encourage them to keep focusing and keep going.

Another reason to sit down and watch with them is that in case there’s any inappropriate content that pops up or any ads, you’re there to clarify any confusions that the child has. Another important thing is that throughout the day remember to repeat any of the songs or facts that the child learns. You can make a more meaningful connection with the content and apply it to the child’s real-world and therefore, they will remember all the things that they learned.

Tip #4: Keep Busy

Last but not least, tip number four is to just fuel your kids with a bunch of outdoor activities, indoor activities, games, and playtime. This allows for the screen time to naturally decrease by itself, and the child can be distracted from any of that. That way, when you do administer screen time, it’ll be for such a limited window and during a very relaxed time period of their day.

This brings us to the end of our video and I know managing these things can be hard and sometimes even easier said than done, but catching them early on and staying persistent can help us to make the best of this situation and the technology.


This article is examined by Clinical Child Psychologist and Ph. D. Researcher Kevser Çakmak, and produced by Otsimo Editorial Team.

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This post does not provide medical advice. See Additional Information.