Use of phones and tablets before bed disrupt children's sleep: study

04 November 2016

The use of phones and tablets before bed stopped kids from sleeping and could lead to health issues, the Mail Online reported.

Researchers reviewed previous data and found significant links between media devices like smartphones and tablets, and disrupted sleep in children.

The study referenced data from 125,000 children and found a clear association between using media devices and sleep problems, which included insufficient sleep at night, reduced sleep quality and daytime sleepiness. 

The children were also found to have sleep problems if they had access to but did not use media devices at bedtime.

The media had suggested that the reason for this was that children are restless, anticipating social media messages. While this was a plausible suggestion, the researchers did not actually look into the cause of the association.

Evidence had shown that night-time sleep was just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children's development and those who did not get enough sleep were more likely to be overweight or obese. 

According to Dr Ben Carter, lead author and a senior lecturer in biostatistics at King's College London, the analysis found  "a consistent pattern of effect across a wide range of countries and settings." 

The team found bedtime media device use was associated with inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Carter and his team also found that  children who did not use their devices in their bedrooms still had their sleep interrupted and were likely to suffer the same problems. The lights and sounds emitted by the technology, also the content might be too stimulating.

Carter however, admits that a weakness of the analysis was "how the data was collected in the primary studies: self-reported by parents and children," but many parents would have no difficulty in recognising their own families' habits reflected in the statistics.

 search domain-b