Sleep is important for young children as it has a significant role in their development. Evidence shows that nighttime sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. So, any environmental influences found to reduce the quality of sleep should be monitored. And a recent study has found that touchscreen devices have negative effects on children sleep.
What the Study Found
The results of the study from the University of London and King’s College suggest that every hour that a child spends on a touchscreen device is associated with 16 minutes less sleep at night. Specifically, each hour spent using a touch screen was linked to 26 fewer minutes of sleep at night and 11 more minutes of sleep during the day, which lead to 16 minutes less sleep overall.
Previous other studies have hypothesized possible ways that screen time can affect sleep in children.
- One possible reason is that the content of the media may increase psychological and physiological stimulation, making it more difficult for children to fall asleep and reducing the quality of their sleep.
- The second reason is linked to the blue light emitted by electronic devices. A study suggests that this bright blue light can affect the internal clock and rhythms, and reduce the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, especially when used before bedtime. It also affects significantly the quality of sleep.
The American Pediatricians Association recommends parents to limit the use of screen time to one hour per day for children between 2 and 5 years old to avoid affecting children sleep.
“It may be worth parents limiting touchscreens in the hours before bedtime,” says researcher Dr. Anna Joyce, an expert in cognitive development psychology at Coventry University in England.