Should specially-abled kids use the internet and technology?
Needless to say, it is getting more difficult than ever for parents to separate their kids from the internet. Keeping their kid’s screen time in check is not at all a cakewalk. Moreover, if that kid is facing any physical or mental deformity these concerns just double. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screen time of kids with ASD should be less than or equal to two hours. But 1 in 2 teens and tweens with ASD exceeds this limit.
Screen Time can help specially-abled kids in developing their social skills and improving many real-life experiences. At the same time, if not managed properly it can hinder their productivity and pose some serious threats. There is a thin line in between what screen time is good and what is bad.
First of all let us see, how kids with ASD can benefit from screen time.
How Screen Time and Technology Help Specially-Abled Kids?
Can technology help kids with ASD?
The answer is yes! Most specially-abled kids struggle to express themselves verbally. Their social interactions are not pleasant either because of the constant stares and judgments they need to face. I know it is hard to believe but some researches prove that technology can actually help them in building their communication skills.
Particularly the learning-focused media can help specially-abled kids process social interactions comfortably. By learning-focused media, I mean videos or games that are specially designed for kids with ASD. However, with Television shows, video games, and social media platforms, this is not the case.
Yes, technology can help your kids in displaying good behavior but it can do the opposite too.
The Other Side Of Screen Time For Specially-Abled Kids
It is good to appreciate all the amazing things the internet and technology can do to help kids but one should not ignore the other side. The foremost step is to figure out
How is your kid spending this time on devices?
How much time they are devoting to these phones?
And these two questions are interconnected.
Suppose their screen time is in check, but kids are using misleading social media or playing violent games, it can affect them severely.
On the other hand, if they are watching only learning-focused videos or content, but, they are using it for an unlimited amount of time. It will not do good to them either.
Of course, one should not ignore privacy concerns and threats the internet possesses for these kids. The major issues with excessive and appropriate screen time of specially-abled kids are:
- Their mind and judgment skills are more sensitive, they might end up interacting with an online predator eager to take their advantage.
- Excessive screen time can also lead to physical well being issues like obesity or insomnia.
- Their arousal regulation issues may exaggerate.
- They already struggle to control their stress and anxiety, adding screen time can lead to over stimulation or under-stimulation in them.
- Their social and communication skills may deteriorate as they struggle to make eye contact or read body language. In some cases, delay in gaining language skills is also noticed.
Uncontrolled screen time can be a major problem for specially-abled kids in the long run. It is very important for parents to realize it as well as convey it to kids. There are some things that parents are doing wrong concerning digital usage which is affecting kids.
What Parents Of Specially-Abled Are Doing Wrong?
There are three major blunders digital parents may do with their kids that can affect them severely.
Letting them use media before bed
Specially abled kids already find it hard to sleep peacefully than other normal children. If you let them have screen time before bed, it can reduce their melatonin production. Let me tell you that melatonin is a sleep hormone and its deficiency can lead to serious sleeping disorders.
Using TV for keeping specially- abled kids entertained
I know you cannot revolve around your kids 24 by 7 but leaving your specially-abled kids in front of media in your busy time may not be a good idea. Excessive media time hinders their creativity and learning time.
Not monitoring their watch history
Do you monitor what your kids are watching?
If not, you might want to reconsider. Interacting with the adult media or playing violent games can affect their tender minds severely. Inappropriate content can pose some serious privacy and security concerns for kids. They might engage in cyber scams after clicking any bogus links or they may become a victim of online bullying in the chat-box of any inappropriate game.
Thus, it is very important to keep screen time of specially-abled kids in the limit as well as monitored. For that purpose, here is Bit Guardian’s guide to some tips and tricks to keep specially-abled kids safe online.
Screen Time Rules For Specially-Abled Kids
Setting up rules for kids might be easy but enforcing them is an arduous task. Keeping the pros and cons of screen time in mind, here are some practical rules you can implement.
Design a strategy according to your kid’s needs
This strategy should include how much time they are allowed to use electronic gadgets as well as what they are allowed to watch. Customize it according to your kid’s needs because you know them better than anyone else. Try to keep total screen time less than two hours a day.
Take a break
To avoid sleeping disorders, restrict device usage after a particular time. Let’s say 9 pm. And, this rule should not be just for kids but for parents too. Spend some non-electronic time at night with your kids playing scribble or reading stories. Switch off all your as well as your specially-abled kids’ devices at least one hour before bed to encourage healthy sleep and lifestyle.
Filter violent content and restrict video gaming
Say No to any sort of content that may exaggerate their anxiety level. Suggest them to paint or play any musical instrument instead.
Whether they are specially-abled kids or not, excessive screen time will not do any good to them. In addition to following these rules, you should also monitor their content using a reliable parental control like Bit Guardian Parental Control. This easy-to-use app can help you to block inappropriate content, set screen time limits, monitor their online activity, and more. Needless to say, it is a must for every kid as well as for every parent.