Plugged In: Electronics Use in Individuals with Autism

What's this project about?

Electronic technology currently plays an integral role in the lives of youth across North America and around the world. There are growing concerns that youth are engaged in electronic use for excessive amounts of time and developing compulsive or dependent behaviours associated with electronic use. While it is clear that the use of video games and computers is widespread among typically developing youth, very little research has been done on electronics use in individuals with autism. Individuals with autism may be particularly susceptible to compulsive or dependent electronics use given their propensity for video games, computer-mediated communication, and screen based entertainment. Very little is known about electronics use and its positive and negative impacts on individuals with autism. The purpose of the current study was to examine electronics use in individuals with autism in comparison to typically developing individuals of the same age.

How did we go about doing this project?

We have asked parents of children, youth, and young adults with autism between the ages of 6-25 to complete a survey of standardized questionnaires, which takes approximately 35 minutes to complete. We also recruited a comparison sample of parents of children without autism.

What will we do with our research findings?

The results of the study help us to understand the benefits and problems associated with electronics use among individuals with autism. We communicated the findings by writing an article in an academic journal, presenting at conferences, and summarizing the results on this website.


MacMullin, J., Lunsky, Y., & Weiss, J. A. (2016). Plugged in: Electronic use in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism, 20(1), 45-54.

Presentations, Public Appearances & Media

MacMullin, J. A., Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2015, May). Electronics use and its impacts for youth and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD) Americas Regional Congress, Honolulu, HI.

MacMullin, J. A., Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2014, March). Electronics use in youth and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the 47th Annual Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Chicago, IL.

Want to know more about this project?

For more information, please feel free to contact Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Principal Investigator on the study, at