Comparison of television viewing between children with autism spectrum disorder and controls

Acta Paediatr. 2011 Jul;100(7):1033-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02166.x. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


Aim: To examine the pattern and extent of television viewing in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with typically developing controls and those with delayed language development (DLD).

Methods: Fifty-four individuals with ASD (mean age 2.56 ± 0.66 years) and 84 controls (mean age 2.43 ± 0.81 years) were enrolled. Fifty-six individuals with DLD, who had language developmental levels similar to those with ASD, were enrolled in our previous study. Main outcome measures included onset and frequency of television viewing, in addition to the type of programme and whether a caregiver cowatched television.

Results: Those with ASD began to watch television significantly earlier than controls (6.44 ± 6.35 vs. 12.41 ± 6.00 months of age, p ≤ 0.0001*) and spent more time watching television than those with DLD (4.60 ± 1.91 vs. 3.05 ± 1.90 h/day, p ≤ 0.0001*) and controls (4.60 ± 1.91 vs. 2.06 ± 1.21 h/day, p ≤ 0.0001*). Those with ASD appeared to watch more adult programmes than normal controls, and they were less likely to watch television with caregivers than both control groups.

Conclusion: There is an earlier onset and higher frequency of television viewing in autistic children compared with children with typical development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors