How touchscreens affect kids' sleep


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The use of tablets has exploded since 2010 when only four percent of adults had them. These days, it’s hard to find an age group that is not using a touchscreen device. In fact, researchers at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia found 36 percent of kids have touched or scrolled on a screen before their first birthday. The good news is that your toddler is likely to become a tech- savvy kid. The bad news is it is linked to poorer sleep.

Nowadays many toddlers learn how to use a touchscreen device before they can walk. A tablet can be used for educational purposes and keeps a kid occupied, while parents handle household tasks. However, a British study found that parents who reported their toddlers used a touchscreen device more often, also found their child got less sleep.
Researchers surveyed over 700 parents with six to 36-month-old kids. They found that for every additional hour a child uses a touchscreen device, they got on average about 26 minutes less sleep at night, an increase of about ten minutes of naptime during the day; it also took them longer to fall asleep.

So what can parents do? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents avoid smartphone and tablet use one hour before bedtime. The blue light from the screen interferes with the body’s natural ability to fall asleep. Putting a break between screens and bed allows your child to fall asleep more easily and to get the good-quality sleep they need.

Past studies have always linked TV and videogames to sleep and developmental problems in older children. This is the first study to research the effects of media use on sleep for infants and toddlers.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.