Impact of the media, video games and/or television on autistic infants, toddlers and/or children (ages 0-3).

Based on research undertaken by Duch et al., (2013), there is evidence that at least 68% of children aged 3 years and below use various forms of screen media such as television and video games and television on a daily basis. Interestingly, research varies in regards to the effects of screen time in young children with some studies suggesting that increased screen time for young children leads to diverse negative health outcomes (LeBlanc et al., 2017; ) while others have found certain benefits associated with limited screen media usage for kids (Ponti et al., 2017). In fact, some of the scientific research conducted regarding this phenomenon has found that there are positive effects, negative outcomes and even unknown effects associated with the use of screen media in children (Radesky et al., 2015; Reid et al.,2016 ). This paper will undertake an extensive qualitative research to investigate the impact of the media, video games and television on autistic infants and toddlers aged 0-3 years. This will provide a background to suggest the interventions that can be utilized to prevent adverse effects of screen media usage on autistic children particularly in order to boost their developmental growth and well-being.

Literature review

According to the study undertaken by Dong et al.,(2021), it appears that the level of early childhood development is linked to diverse factors, which include socio-economic factors. In this research, it was established that electronic screen media plays a very crucial role in terms of providing entertainment to typically developing children and children experiencing neurodevelopmental disabilities. The screen time involves time spent watching the television or computer, or on smartphone. The research undertaken by Dong et al., (2022) determined that the screen time for children with autism spectrum disorder aged 0-3 years tends to be longer as compared to that of children who are considered typically developing. Further, the research indicated that the increase in screen time directly corelates to higher levels of autistic symptoms that adversely affect the child. In fact, the child’s developmental index in the language domain decreases sensationally if they are exposed to a higher level of screen time especially when they are younger and their language development is still low.

In another research undertaken by Kitimat al., (2022) to examine the impact of increased screen time during the pandemic for children aged 1 year and with autism spectrum disorder, it was found that longer screen times at one year of age is linked to autism spectrum disorder at 3 years of age. Essentially, this suggests that when kids are exposed to longer screen times at one year old, then they are statistically subjected to significant odds of developing autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental conditions by the age of 3-year-old. Further, the research suggested that there was a remarkable increase in the use of digital devices which led to a high screen time for autistic kids during the pandemic hence making it necessary to review the health effects on infants and the need to control the excess screen time. Le Blanc et al., (2017) found that an increase in a child’s screen time is linked to poor neurodevelopment even if they are exposed to as low as one hour of screen time before they have reached the age of three years. This indicates a serious risk in terms of the extent of the poor neurodevelopment which can be directly attributed to high levels of media usage for children during the age when they are delicately developing. Even though researchers such as Ponti et al., (2017) have provided some benefits in cognition and creative thinking as being the result of watching educational shows for kids, such benefits only arise if the child has attained at least the age of four years. Basically, this means that children below three years should not be exposed to screen time especially if they have developmental challenges such as those with autism spectrum disorder.

Impact of popular shows such as Coco melon on children’s development

Coco melon is a very popular American YouTube channel as well as a streaming media show that mainly airs animation videos of original children songs and traditional nursery rhymes. The channel is so popular such that it is currently in second position in terms of most views globally and has the most views in the US. The channel’s content is made up of videos about babies as well as adults and animals who typically interact in portrayal of daily life. The popularity of Coco melon was spurred by the pandemic which caused an increase in terms of the hours spent by children and parents at home due to COVID 19 protocols. A report published on the Washington post by Mary Graham (2022), this is a show that has a good production value that is accompanied by songs as well as highly colorful dancing characters. In fact, the writers use their own experiences with their children and other family members to generate activities which are then turned into the Coco melon episodes (Graham, 2022).

Even though there lacks sufficient academic research regarding the impact of recent streaming shows for children such as Coco melon, there are researchers who have expressed their views regarding the potential impact of these shows on children’s developmental growth. For instance, a research published on “The List” website indicates comments drawn from the show’s creators which suggest that they seek to ensure that the content is fun and engaging for children as they focus on producing shows on relevant topics (2021). In another research undertaken by Imaniah et al., (2020) it focused on the impact of Youtube shows for kids, including Cocomelon and the potential adverse effects, suggesting that it might limit a child’s developmental growth in the aspects of cognition and communication. According to this report, one of the researchers opined that shows such as Coco melon tend to be hyper stimulating such that it gives kids’ brains a hit of dopamine due to the screen time and this means that the stimulation levels are higher if the screen time is also higher. As a result, this causes the children to experience symptoms that include addiction and withdrawal and also cause them to feel dysregulated accompanied by a general discomfort in the course of daily life (Imaniah, 2020). If kids watch these shows for longer hours, then their brains do not function in the optimum manner and this might impair their expected developmental growth.

Interventions to minimize screen time

During the pandemic, there are certain effective interventions that can be utilized to minimize the screen time and help to reduce the risk of the adverse effects on children with autism spectrum disorder. These are critical interventions that should be utilized so as to ensure that children develop in a healthy manner without being subjected to the potential negative impact of addictive screen time. The first intervention is that there should be limited screen time specifically for children aged less than two years of age. This is a critical period in a child’s developmental phase and they should not be exposed to more than one hour of screen time per day. In a research focusing on the “the good, the bad and the ugly” of children’s screen time during the COVID 19 pandemic, Korhonen (2022) suggested that it is increasingly important for parents to maintain more stringent control in terms of ensuring that children are not exposed to high screen times. This is especially important during the pandemic were most parents were experiencing lethargy and anxiety as well and therefore predisposed to allow children to watch more television. Korhonen (2022) suggests that parents should be guided by the limits provided by the World Health Organization which suggests that there should be no screen time for children aged under two years of age and that children aged 2-4 years of age should only be exposed to an hour of screen time.

Another effective intervention is for parents to ensure that there is a daily interactive play for children, that is accompanied by parent engagement. Steinhardt, et al., (2022) found that the pandemic has resulted into negative effects on the mental health of parents during the pandemic and also exacerbated parenting challenges thus adversely affecting parent-child functioning. According to this research, the pandemic contributed towards a less enriching outcome for children activities which are often initiated by prints when the child is aged 0-3 years. As observed, it is imperative to reiterate that parents have a crucial role to play in promoting effective child development and it is important for parents to create supportive and enriching learning environments which will promote the social-emotional and cognitive development of a child. Even with the unprecedented demands caused by the pandemic on parent-child interactions, it is not advisable for parents to relegate their role to television shows because this will adversely affect their child’s healthy development.


It is worth noting that electronic screen media time has continued to form a daily part of children’s entertainment, especially judging by the high levels of popularity of children’s media. This has resulted into diverse implications for kids with contrasting research findings where certain scholars have corelated screen time with some benefits particularly in the cognitive and creative ability of kids. However, a tremendous body of research has found contrary results where high levels of screen time are associated with negative impact on a child’s healthy psychological and psychosocial development. For children aged 0-3 years with autism spectrum disorder, research indicates that they tend to have a longer screen time accompanied as compared to typically developing children. Additionally, research findings discussed in this paper have found that autistic children aged 0-3 years tend to experience more severe symptoms with increased screen time and this leads to a higher risk of developmental delays, especially in the language domain.


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