Reduction of Screen Media Viewing and Increase in Socially Oriented Activities in Young Children with ASD: A Pilot Study

Children and Screens

This was a six-month study of 7 children (ages 18 to 42 months) with autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) who engaged in at least 2 hours of daily screen viewing at commencement. It evaluated the feasibility of reducing these children’s screen use and increasing their social interaction. Subjects’ parents were informed about screen media and child development, and provided with weekly support for reducing their children’s digital media viewing and encouraging face-to-face activities. Subjects were evaluated at the beginning and end of the study. Parents succeeded in markedly reducing their children’s digital media use. Children’s social communication and adaptive behavior improved. Parents were motivated by the changes that they noted in their children, and reported a lower level of parental stress. Based on these findings, further study on the potential benefits of decreasing digital media viewing by young children with ASD is warranted.