Teaching Internet Safety to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Insights from ABA Therapy Experts in Fort Worth, TX
If the reports on digital habits of children are anything to go by, American kids aged 8 to 12 spends an average of 4 hours 44 minutes per day on the internet excluding school work, while among teens, the average duration for the same is 7 hours 22 minutes per day. In fact, 53% of the kids have their own smartphones by age 11, while 70% have one by age 12. While mobile screen time is a fantastic opportunity for research, learning new things, and developing new skills, it can also leave the child exposed to identity theft, cyberbullying, fixation on games or social media platforms, age-inappropriate material, and other such threats.
Parents and caregivers of children with ASD need to be even more careful and vigilant than other families with neurotypical kids. Whether it is about cautioning the child against revealing confidential information, or helping them identify online scams or cyber bullying, being proactive is the key to teaching internet safety to children with Autism.
The ABA therapy experts at Behavior Pioneers, an Autism treatment center in Dallas, TX have put together these useful tips to inculcate safe digital behaviors in your child with ASD.
3 Tips for Building Healthy Digital Habits in Children with Autism
1. Be vigilant: Ensure that you can monitor your child’s online activities and control their access to the internet. Let the child surf only under adult supervision or in high traffic zones within your home where you can keep an eye on their devices. Consider setting aside fixed hours for internet usage in order to prevent obsessive digital behaviors. Use relevant tracking software or tools to monitor the type of sites that your child accesses and use that information for teachable moments.
2. Talk to your child about Dos and Don’ts: It is important to help the child understand that they should not reveal personal details or confidential information on any online platforms they access. Explain to them why they should not share pictures with strangers online. Teach them the appropriate ways to post information or respond to messages on social media platforms. Ensure that they understand how to identify phishing scams or online predators and make them aware of all potential digital risks.
3. Connect with your child: Advancements in digital technology have proven to be a boon for children with ASD. Interactive games and visually stimulating apps, tools and websites go a long way in helping children with Autism thrive. The child can access and absorb new information, learn new skills and behaviors, and interact more easily with their parents, siblings, caregivers, teachers, therapists, and peers. Use internet surfing time as an opportunity to connect with your child, learn more about their interests, help them build on their skills and confidence, and make them less vulnerable to the risks of the digital world.
About the Authors
Behavior Pioneers, LLC, specializes in ABA therapy for treating individuals with ASD. Led by Clinical Director Brian Tanenbaum, their team of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) is committed to bringing about meaningful and long-lasting changes in the lives of children and families dealing with Autism.
The Behavior Pioneers team comes with top-notch credentials, including Master’s degrees in Special Education, Low Incidence Disabilities and Autism, Child Development, Educational Psychology, and Early Childhood Disorders.
In addition to in-home ABA therapy throughout Dallas, TX and Fort Worth, TX, they also offer clinic-based ABA programs in Richardson, TX and Carrollton, TX