Using technology and online safety with autism

Using technology and online safety with autism


Today I’m going to be looking at using technology and online safety with autism. We all want our children to be safe, but you can’t wrap them up in cotton wool forever. First though, we had success this morning. It was unexpected, as last night Jack wouldn’t listen to us at all, but he went to school without his Nintendo Switch. However he did say he wants to take it tomorrow, so the issue is far from over. But today was a positive step, tomorrow I will prepare to do it all again. That’s just how it works.

Lily at home again

Lily was off school again. Just to make sure that if she did have a stomach bug, she wouldn’t pass it on to other children. So it’s not been a very productive week so far, especially as there’s so much work, around the house that needs doing. That’s without thinking about the garage or the garden.

But it has been a nice couple of days. I got to spend some time just with Lily. It’s been a bit full on as Lily has wanted my attention for what seemed like every second.

Online safety

She especially enjoyed getting me to play Roblox with her. I’m no good at these sort of games. So she set it up and I followed her around, very slowly. I actually found it quite difficult to control, unlike Lily who wizzes around.

We were in some sort of theme park world. Lily was really excited to be giving me a tour of the theme park, and taking my character onto all of the rides. Sometimes Jack will play it with her. She enjoys that more, as Jack knows what he’s doing unlike me. It’s these sort of things that make you feel old, but like with anything involving Jack. It depends on his mood, and always has to be on his terms.

Technology and online safety with autism

I know there a lot of views on what you should “allow” your kids to do. Whether that be computer games, internet, social media or just TV. Online safety, lack of social skills, lack of physical activity are things that are talked about. I haven’t done any research. I don’t have facts and figures to prove or disprove anything. All I have is my opinions. That are based on common sense.

We don’t set any time limits on anything. We generally let them choose what they want to do. If they have been in front of screens for a long time, then we will go to them with ideas of stuff to do. Lily will normally jump at the chance to do anything. Jack not as much, with it very much depending on what you ask him to do.

One thing is for sure. If you ask either of them if they want to go outside and do something. At least 9 times out of 10 they can’t get out of the door quick enough. With that in mind. That is why I don’t worry to much about their time on technology, they do enough other stuff that I don’t see it as a problem.

Lily also loves art & crafts, board games and imaginary play. I don’t have any concerns about the time she spends on technology. Jack spends a lot more time on there. A few years ago CAMHS came up with the suggestion, to always let him have his phone, as it helped to keep his anxiety in check. In hindsight would another solution have been better? Possibly, but that’s what we did at the time and it works, so we have no plans to change it.

There can be problems

It has caused problems like him wanting to have the Nintendo Switch all the time, being the latest issue. But Jack needs to have background noise, even if he is reading or drawing. He will have music or YouTube on in the background. If you turn the background noise off, he will quickly become agitated and lose concentration.

I don’t know how this works at school, perhaps  the background noise of the classroom is enough. But again, Jack is always happy to do other things. Especially if it’s outside. Because of that I don’t get hung up on time spent in front of screens.

Online safety

Then of course you have the safety aspect. When they are online, as with everything. Most  people are there just to have fun, but as we all know there are those people out there with darker intentions. When they are younger it’s fairly easy to put on restrictions. We have had no problems with Lily at all yet.

Jack on the other hand. He is now probably more skilled on the modern devices than I am. So there has been issues, but as long as you are doing the single most important thing that you need to be doing in this area. Then you will be fine. Keep an eye on what your kids are doing!!

That goes for all kids. Obviously there comes a time with most kids, where they have to be trusted with a bit of independence. When this happens with autistic kids can be massively different, depending on the difficulties they have. As we know each autistic person is completely different. Some may have learning disabilities, and some won’t.So I’m not offering a set of exact instructions here. 

Just use common sense

It comes back to what I said at the start. Common Sense. You know your child better than anybody else does. You will know if they’re spending too much time on technology. If it is effecting their behaviour you will be the ones who can see that, and then take action.

Better than anybody else you will know if they have the know how, and responsibility to be able to act safely online. Jack doesn’t. So we have to watch him carefully, but at the end of the day it’s a modern world we live in. Everything is being done online now, and there are skills they need to learn. 

For Jack it has been an area he has excelled in, and provides a big creative outlet. One that I’m very keen to encourage. It all comes down to watching them and using common sense. That concludes my thoughts on using technology and online safety with autism, I hope you enjoyed it. Remember, no one knows your child better than you do!

For more information on online safety, see my post that talks about and includes a social story on the subject, by clicking here.

Dad Does Autism