The Benefits of Screen Time: How TV Can Support Children with ASD

In recent years, the role of screen time in children’s development has been a topic of much debate. Concerns about excessive screen exposure often dominate discussions, especially when it comes to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, emerging research suggests that when used purposefully and in moderation, television and other forms of screen time can offer unique benefits for children with ASD.


Screen Time - Good or Bad?

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder is essential in recognizing how screen time can be utilized as a tool to support these children. ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and behavior.

Each child with ASD is unique, with individual strengths and challenges. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, incorporating screen time judiciously into their routines can offer numerous advantages.


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1. Visual Learning: Children with ASD often have a preference for visual learning. Television programs, especially those designed with educational content or structured narratives, can provide visual cues and storytelling formats that resonate well with them. Shows with clear, predictable storylines and visual representations of emotions and social interactions can help children with ASD understand complex concepts and improve their communication skills.

2. Enhanced Focus and Attention: Contrary to the belief that screen time always leads to distraction, many children with ASD exhibit a remarkable ability to focus intensely on specific interests. Television programs that align with their interests, such as documentaries about animals or science fiction series, can capture their attention for extended periods. This focused engagement can promote learning and vocabulary development.

3. Social Learning Opportunities: While children with ASD may struggle with traditional social interactions, television can provide a safe and controlled environment for learning about social norms, emotions, and relationships. Watching age-appropriate shows featuring diverse characters and social scenarios can help children with ASD understand facial expressions, body language, and appropriate social behavior.


4. Stress Reduction and Relaxation: For some children with ASD, sensory sensitivities and anxiety are significant challenges. Television can serve as a calming and soothing activity, offering a predictable and structured form of entertainment. Watching familiar shows or videos can help alleviate stress and provide a sense of comfort and security.

5. Shared Interests and Bonding: Screen time can also facilitate shared interests and bonding between children with ASD and their peers, siblings, or caregivers. Engaging in co-viewing experiences allows for shared enjoyment and can strengthen relationships. Additionally, discussing favorite characters or scenes from TV shows can enhance communication and social connections.

While recognizing the benefits of screen time for children with ASD, it’s crucial to approach its use mindfully and responsibly. Here are some tips for harnessing the positive aspects of screen time while minimizing potential drawbacks:

– Limit Screen Time: Set clear limits on the amount of screen time allowed each day and ensure that it doesn’t interfere with other essential activities such as outdoor play, social interactions, and sleep.
– Choose Quality Content: Prioritize educational and age-appropriate programming that aligns with your child’s interests and developmental needs. Look for shows that emphasize positive social messages, diversity, and inclusivity.
– Engage in Co-Viewing: Whenever possible, watch TV programs with your child and actively engage in discussions about the content. Encourage questions, reflections, and connections to real-life experiences.
– Monitor Effects: Pay attention to how screen time affects your child’s mood, behavior, and overall well-being. Adjust usage accordingly and seek alternative activities if necessary.
– Balance with Offline Activities: Encourage a balanced lifestyle that includes a variety of activities beyond screen time, such as outdoor play, creative pursuits, and face-to-face interactions.


In conclusion, when used purposefully and in moderation, television and other forms of screen time can be valuable tools for supporting children with ASD in their learning and development. By understanding the unique needs and preferences of each child, caregivers can harness the benefits of screen time while promoting healthy and balanced media consumption habits.


AGBS provides ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how AGBS can help please contact us here , or call 908-913-0443.





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