This is a collaborative post.
A lot of people lately have been talking about whether kids should have a TV in their bedroom. Whilst I want to touch on that a little I also want to share my thoughts on whether autistic kids should have a TV in their bedroom. Autistic kids or neurodivergent kids may need a TV in their bedroom more than a neurotypical child and here is why.
What do kids want?
Research has shown that 75% of kids want a TV in their bedroom, of course, this is likely to be neurotypical kids not those with additional needs. Kids with additional needs are often lonely and have less out of school activities so they may be keener to have a TV in their bedroom. Alternatively, perhaps they are young enough to have not considered it.
The average child starts asking for TV in their bedroom when they start infant school. I would imagine this is similar for children with autism and additional needs, providing they have the language and understanding for this.
Why do kids need a tv in their bedroom?
Many children want or need a tv in their bedroom for use with game consoles rather than to watch live TV. This of course has its advantages in that you can often use an older TV. At the very least you don’t need to pay for an additional sky box or similar.
Children, generally, like to watch TV in their bedroom so they can relax and watch their choice of TV or play their games without hassle from their siblings or parents. We all get annoyed when they watch the same show again and again so if we don’t have to hear it they can watch it on repeat and not get bothered by us complaining!
When should you put a TV in their room?
You are the parent it is up to you. Whilst the media often says that kids shouldn’t have a TV in their room for various reasons it is still your choice as a parent. You know your child best and if it will be good or bad for them.
It is always best to give children an older TV in my experience. They can easily get annoyed and throw something at the TV or perhaps not look after it as well. For this reason, a perfect time to give children a TV is when you buy a new one for your lounge or bedroom.
If you have been looking at the latest TVs and just can’t justify the cost of that Samsung 8k TV then maybe remembering that it not only gets you a new TV but also gets one for your children will help it seem more justifiable.
What makes autistic children different when it comes to a TV in their room?
As the mum of a child with autism, I have spoken to a number of other parents with autistic or neurodivergent children and can honestly say whilst all children are different there are some huge similarities too.
Parenting a child with additional needs is blooming hard. They often require a lot more supervision than other children and may sleep less too. With Ben, for example, he only slept for a few hours a night for years, so from 2 am I was up with him trying to keep him entertained as he just couldn’t sleep.
He didn’t even need the sleep as was full of beans all day! Other parents in a similar situation often agree that any moment you can have without them really counts. This could be done by having a safety gate on their bedroom door and ensuring everything in that room is safe for them and going to the toilet in peace.
If having a TV in the child’s room helps you to get that bit of a recharge as a parent then it is really important. Routines and rules are important but so is your sanity.
I would say, without hesitation, that if you feel a TV in your child’s bedroom would help you as a family then go for it. Life is hard enough when you parent a child with additional needs without making it harder by stopping yourself from getting a much-needed break.
Put yourself first and if your child having a TV in their bedroom makes life easier for you on the whole then do it. Just because it isn’t right for everyone doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you!
5 things to consider when adding a TV to a child’s bedroom
- Internet access – does the TV have any internet access? If so ensure you keep them safe by changing settings on your router if needed to keep them off unsafe or inappropriate sites.
- Sky and streaming inappropriate content – check what settings you can add to ensure that a password is needed to access any content over their age or developmental age.
- Fix it securely – A TV can be very heavy so be sure to check that it can not be toppled over by the child. Consider what would happen if they climbed on any furniture or pulled any cables. Even if your child is too small for this now, they won’t stay small forever! A TV wall bracket out of their reach is often a good choice.
- Times it can be used – If you want to limit the times the TV can be used then you could add a smart plug and only enable that between certain times using Alexa routines or similar.
- The wall the TV is against – if you have a child who will be watching cartoons loudly at 6 am then this is really important. Be sure to check the TV isn’t on a wall with a younger sibling or neighbour who may find this frustrating.
This infographic shows the research and statistics around children having a TV in their bedroom. For accessibility or if you are unable to see the image the statistics are as follows.
- 75% of children want a TV in their room!
- 43% of parents wish they waited to put a TV in their kid’s room.
- Kids start asking for a TV when they are in infant school.
- 45% of children watch TV to fall asleep.
- 8% of kids don’t watch television programmes.
- 50% of children are still watching live television.
- 54% of children have an iPad or Tablet.
Reliant surveyed 680 parents to get this data.