Autistic Children And YouTube

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

Autistic Children And YouTube

Navigating our digital world as parents is tough, in this article we explore the relationship between autistic children and YouTube.

The motivation for this article was watching my son scroll away endlessly on our smart TV.

He would jump between one video and the next in an instant and it got me wondering if YouTube is a net good or bad.

Benefits of YouTube for autistic children

On Autism Parents we never take out a lopsided position. We will always try and look at pros and cons in all aspects of raising autistic children.

So with that in mind I thought it may be good to list some of the benefits of YouTube first.

A tool for learning

Probably the biggest pro for me is that there are almost endless avenues for learning on YouTube.

If your child for example struggles with toileting, there are videos on that subject aimed at kids.

Brushing teeth… yes YouTube has you covered.

Getting dressed… thousands of videos to choose from.

You get the picture.

The trick comes however in trying to get your child to actually watch what you deem to be appropriate videos.

It’s all good and well there being educational content but if they just want to watch videos of slime or hamsters running through mazes then it’s not much good!

What you can do is be a bit smart with the YouTube algorithm.

Consider ‘liking’ or commenting on videos with an educational benefit on their behalf. YouTube will then flood your child’s suggested videos with similar content.

Subscribing to channels has the same impact.

Another way in which you can try and get your child to be engaged in educational content is to be engaged.

If you watch for example a video about brushing teeth together, even with toothbrushes in hand, your child may be much more accepting of the video choice.

Autistic children and YouTube
The relationship between autistic children and YouTube can be difficult

A calming effect

Most children with autism can go through stages of hyperactivity and meltdowns.

A tablet or phone with YouTube loaded up is almost the pacifier of the digital generation.

I have lost track of the times when we have turned to some favourite videos to calm our son.

Now there are some parents in the world who would disapprove of this tactic but there is zero judgement in any of our authors.

We know how hard it can be and if YouTube is your families coping mechanism then don’t beat yourself up about it.

If it calms your child and gives you a moment to catch your breath then so be it.

Getting used to technology

This is perhaps a cliche which people use from time to time but I think there’s some truth to it.

We live in a digital age and like it or not our children are going to be exposed to technology.

Youtube in-particular seems to be just a part of the furniture in society now and you can’t hide them from it forever.

Getting a child accustomed to searching YouTube for tips and support could save them time and trouble in the future.

What about the negatives?

For every ying there is a yang and we’d be amiss to not mention possible negatives.

Social development

When our son is watching YouTube he is in his own world and it is nearly impossible to break into.

I think given the chance he would spend his entire life glued to a screen and there is no other way of cutting it, that’s not great.

If our kids sole source of entertainment is via YouTube then how can they be expected to develop socially.

In just a wider observation on society it feels like we are a less sociable species already.

Screen time is only increasing and for an autistic child who may struggle to interact in person, then excessive YouTube is likely to be detrimental.

Less parent/child time

In addition to socialising with peers, I believe YouTube can rob us from interactions with our kids.

When our boy is glued to his screen no matter what I try he wants no part of me.

At times this can be a relief but it also can leave an empty feeling inside.

Over stimulation

Some children can be overstimulated through watching YouTube. Just as it can be a calming effect for others, I have seen autistic children getting worked up by videos.

Various studies have shown that watching screens before bed can lead to hampered sleep also.

Appropriateness of content

As hard as we try, it’s not always possible to control what our kids watch.

YouTube kids seems to be sanitised but even within that section I have seen some content which is a bit on edge.

Clearly it’s not going to contain sexual scenes or violence but it could have child like ‘fights’ for example.

If a child is left on the full fat YouTube then all bets are off.

Summary – Autistic children and YouTube

Knowing how much to control your child’s digital life is a key consideration for all parents.

Whilst YouTube can be a tremendous tool for parents and kids, it can also be a troublesome factor in households.

From my experience it can be helpful to try and monitor what our son is watching and set timers to assist with excessive screentime.

However you handle it just know that you’re doing your best for your child and we’re always here to help.

Any tips or ideas?

We would love to hear from you if you have got any techniques or ideas for our readers to try.

Be sure to leave a comment if any of the above has helped or if you have any ideas we can add to this article.

Also be sure to search for any other articles you might find helpful.

Try for example searching below for topics like ‘meltdown’ or ‘communication’.

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A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

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