The Link Between EMF, Autism and Screen Time: What Parents Need to Know

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects around 1 in 44 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One area of interest for researchers is the potential link between excessive screen time and autism. Excessive screen time can have a negative impact on a child's speech, physical, and emotional development. To mitigate this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children younger than 18 to 24 months and no more than one hour of screen time for children between ages 2 and 5 years.


Recent studies have explored the link between screen time and autism. One study, titled "Association Between Screen Time Exposure in Children at 1 Year of Age and Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 Years of Age," found that longer durations of screen time among 1-year-old boys were "significantly associated" with autism spectrum disorder at 3 years old. However, the study did not specify the amount of time or extent of a child's screen time leading up to a later autism diagnosis.

Dr. Gregory N. Barnes, director of Norton Children's Autism Center, emphasizes the importance of parents regulating and controlling their child's screen time, especially among babies and toddlers. Excessive screen time can impact a child's social development, leaving less room for playtime and interaction with parents, caregivers, or other children.

Another study, titled "Correlation Between Screen Time and Autistic Symptoms as Well as Development Quotients in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder," found that the longer the screen time, the more severe the symptoms of ASD, particularly in sensory symptoms and developmental delay, especially in the language domain. The study also noted that children with more severe autism tend to look at video devices more because of their inability to interact with other children.

Research has also shown that wireless and electromagnetic fields can impact brain function and affect the nervous system, leading to altered sleep, damaged mitochondria, increased oxidative stress, cellular damage, genotoxicity, and blood-brain barrier permeability. Children, whose brains are still developing, can be particularly affected. As a result, reducing EMF exposure can help increase a child's functioning, particularly in those with neurological issues such as ADHD or autism. For instance, a Yale study found that cellphone radiation exposure caused mice exposed prenatally to have "ADHD-like" symptoms of hyperactivity and poor memory. The Baby Safe Project recommends that pregnant women reduce wireless exposures to protect the developing brain.

While the link between autism and screen time is still under study, it is crucial for parents to regulate and control their child's screen time. Due to the increased use of devices during the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics has clarified that video chatting with family members is an acceptable form of screen time among young children. Norton Children's Autism Center provides support for children and families with autism, helping them meet their goals, such as increasing communication skills, independence, life skills, and more.

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