Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





Autism, Children, Media Use, Restricted Repetitive Behaviour


Kimberley Babb




In recent years, the potential influences of media use on youth mental health and development have received increasing attention. Emerging research has suggested that youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) use media in problematic ways. However, few studies have investigated the possibility that the media use shown by these youths may be an extension of the symptoms of ASD into the media context. The current study explored similarities between classical restricted repetitive behaviours (RRBs) and proposed media RRBs in children with ASD. A sample of 36 parents of 4- to 11-year-old children (ASD = 25; non-ASD = 11) completed online surveys on RRBs, and media use. Classical RRBs were associated with greater numbers of media RRBs in children with ASD, and media RRBs were also observed in greater frequencies in these children compared with children without ASD. Children with ASD also demonstrated greater frequency, intensity, and duration of distress in response to interruption or prevented use of media than children without ASD. However, age and adaptive functioning level did not exhibit statistically significant associations to media RRBs in either of these group. Findings suggested that the ways children with ASD use media may reflect the underlying symptoms of ASD. The types of media accessed, the time spent engaged in different leisure activities, and number of digital literacy skills were also explored to find potential similarities and differences in the media use characteristics of children both with and without a diagnosis of ASD. Proposed media RRBs have implications for future research and clinical application, considering the incorporation of technology-based behavioural addictions in the current mental health diagnostic systems.