Excessive exposure of children to digital devices and symptoms of pseudo-autism: Therapeutic role of child-parent interactions

Children who have been exposed to digital media for several hours a day from a very young age, miss the opportunity to interact with their mother or caregiver and do not receive the rich environmental experiences that are necessary for the normal development of the nervous system. Also, children’s extreme use of digital devices increases the risk of overweight and obesity, changes in eating habits and sleep patterns, structural changes in the brain, motor and language delays, vocabulary weakness, verbal intelligence, executive functions, as well as emotional, communication, social and behavioral problems are associated. Recent studies have shown that extreme exposure of young children to digital devices can cause symptoms of pseudo-autism in young children. In fact, at a critical age for brain development and neurological flexibility, toddlers are attracted to the many auditory and visual stimuli of digital devices and lose the social stimuli around them. As child grows in non-communicative context, the brain’s circuits related to receiving and processing non-social stimuli evolve, in this way the specificity of the brain in non-communicative circuits prevents the child from paying attention to social stimuli and the evolution of the social circuits of toddler’s brain. In fact, long term exposure of toddlers to digital devices (digital midwifery) in sensitive growth periods such as social deprivation, restructuring of structural and functional links in the brain of toddlers is distorted and leads to impairment in social and verbal interactions, repetitive behaviors and stereotypes.

According to these cases, a study of investigating the effectiveness of enriching the parent-child relationship and removing digital devices from children’s lives on pseudo-autism behaviors and brain activity of 12 children under 4 years of age, who exposed to digital devices more than half of their waking hours conducted at Shahid Beheshti University.

The results of this study showed that after two months of intensive interaction between parents and children, their symptoms of pseudo-autism were significantly reduced, and their brain waves activity specially in the frontal areas of the brain, has undergone significant changes that are consistent with improvements in communication skills. The findings of this study show the need for human interactions in the early years and the avoidance of the use of digital devices by children and poor lifestyle in terms of communication.