Sunday, June 10, 2018

Can Technology Do More Harm Than Good?

Today, there is a large debate in the Autism community regarding whether technology can negatively impact children with autism. Recent research is emerging that children with autism are more vulnerable to negative effects of excessive screen time and can become easily addicted to technology.

The visual below highlights how screen time can negatively affect 4 key areas:

Low melatonin and sleep disturbances: Screen time suppresses melatonin and disrupts REM sleep.

Arousal and emotional dysregulation:  Screen time increases acute and chronic stress, induces hyperarousal, causes emotional dysregulation, and produces overstimulation.

Social Communication Deficits: Screen time  can hinder development of these exact same skills—even in children and teens who don’t have autism, screen viewing and even background TV has been shown to delay language acquisition.

Fragile Attention System:  Screen time can fracture attention, depletes mental reserves, and impair executive functioning.

Due the emerging bodies of research, many parents of children with autism and even medical professionals are advocating NO TECHNOLOGY in the lives of this population.  However, technology continues to play a significant role today and it's integration into education is only expanding. Technology can facilitate learning and be used meaningfully to teach children with autism new skills and further enhance child development. Understanding how to set boundaries with technology is key versus removing/withholding it altogether.

Below is visual of five ways parents can easily set boundaries with technology.

Dunckley, V. L. (2016, December 31). Autism and Screen Time: Special Brains, Special Risks. 
Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't aware of these negative impacts on children with autism. Possibly the potential for harm depends on where the child lies on the spectrum? My teenage nephew is high-functioning and engages in a fair amount of screen time--I would say he's mildly addicted, but I'm not aware of any other issues (yet). It's good information to know, but I wonder what challenges it would present for teachers wanting to integrate technology in inclusive classrooms.