Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coming of Age with Autism

Check out our NPR documentary. This summer NPR followed our clinic around documenting the experience of employment, college, and living independently with autistic young adults.

Coming of Age with Autism

Screen Time and its Effects on Kids

Research shows that children now spend more than seven hours a day with their TV's, computers, cellphones, and other electronic media—more time than they spend in school and more than many of them sleep. So what does this mean for parents? This means parents have to get savvy about their child's media use and how it affects their physical and mental health. It's important for parents to develop a family strategy for managing media and in turn create household rules for the whole family.

Falling asleep isn't like flicking a switch. We don't put our heads on the pillow and fall off right to sleep. It takes our bodies time to unwind at night. The problem is that light exposure before sleep can disrupt body rhythms and suppress the release of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep.So how can you help improve sleep in both you and your child? Have an electronic curfew. It's ok for your child to use electronics but have them stop using electronics a few hours before bedtime. This will allow their body and brain time to unwind and begin to relax. 

The challenge is that most children nowadays have TV's and computers in their bedrooms. This makes it more difficult for parents to monitor. One helpful strategy is to put a parent control lock on your child's TV and computer that will shut down the devices at a specific time. You can either input a code on your device or purchase an external device that will automatically shut down the device at a specific time. In regards to Wifi devices, have your child hand in their devices before they go to bed so they are not tempted to text or surf the net before bed time.
In addition, its important to put a daily limit on electronics use. If left to their own devices, most children/teens will choose to watch TV, surf the net, play video games, or text/chat on their phone instead of engaging in more physical or mentally stimulating activities.