Addicted to iPad

By Linda
Posted July 18, 2014

My grandson who is 13 years old has been using an iPad for about two years. Now he has gotten so into it, especially YouTube, that he gets over-stimulated to the point where he cannot relax. We are looking for a behavior program but we live in a rural area with few services.


Answered:  August 12, 2014 by Dr. Sidney Baker

Negative responses often help us learn more about our kids' options than positive responses.  What have you learned? Simply that the device – or the content he has found – has a powerful effect. It is very likely that – just as with diets, medication, and other interventions – a different dose or a different way of using the iPad could be just as powerful in a positive way.

I suggest that you consider checking out 13 Best Autism Apps for the iPad by Michael A. Prospero to see ways that iPad apps can be very interesting and helpful to kids.

As for a behavior program, it’s hard for me to know just what you have in mind. Whatever program you might find would benefit your grandson only to the extent that the therapist really sees him, understands him, and loves him. When I say “see” I mean seeing his strengths and helping him build on them.  When I say that, I open a door for you to see his strengths and try various activities that might help you discover strengths you have not yet been able to notice.

Music? Dance? Gymnastics? Horseback riding? Something that engages him and occupies his whole body and imagination in ways that staring at YouTube does not. Something that will help him see himself in a new way and give him self-confidence.

A note to other parents and grandparents: please let us know your positive experiences with iPad and other electronic devices.

All the best



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Our 13 year old son uses YouTube on the iPad to find videos which are instructional, videos that sooth him and music that moves him. It's actually pretty cool. For example, he and my husband made blueberry muffins over the weekend and later that day he was on YouTube looking at videos about how to bake a cake. If he is feeling overwhelmed or upset, he will YouTube a soothing Pooh video, and when he wants to dance, he'll find an upbeat tune and dance with joy. We also use apps, but he navigates this device beautifully to quench his curiosity and to clam himself. It is a portal to learning for him.

I suggest you really look at Son-Rise: Of all the things we've seen over the years, nothing IMHO comes close to what they are doing...especially not ABA. And it is a parent-led, home-based programs, so living in a rural area will not be as much of an issue. As for your original question, Son-Rise is very much against iPad and all electronics. They stimulate the part of our children they already have, i.e. the cognitive part. What they need is to stimulate their social relationship part, which they do not use at all with an electronic device like the iPad. We've stopped all electronics ever since starting a Son-Rise program at home for our son.

My son is 9 and has the same difficulties using the IPad. When first introduced he used many instructional apps however, as time went on and he found youtube, he too became fixated and overstimulated from the things he chose to look at and watch. What I use and works for him, is allowing the IPad to be use when I am in close proximity to make sure he is not engaging in any stereotypical behaviors or if he is becoming over stimulated. If he does it is taken away. I also use a timer and set it for his allotted IPad time, once timer goes off IPad goes away. Another great method is an activity schedule, with IPad time somewhere within (with supervision of course). I hope this is helpful. I use same method for all electronics.

Our 11 year old daughter is fixated on iPad or phones. She becomes very aggressive, if you take it away. Also found YouTube and has looked at very inappropriate pictures.