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Phones and tablets hurting children’s sleep

HealthBy Sunday World
Phones and tablets hurting children’s sleep

Parents concerned about the quality of their children’s sleep should keep mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops out of bedrooms, according to a new study.

A team from King's College London and Cardiff University has reviewed available evidence on connections between child sleep patterns and device use.

They looked at 20 studies involving more than 125,000 children who had an average age of 14. Accordingly, the researchers found that children and teenagers who use mobile phones and tablets at bedtime are more than twice as likely to be getting too little sleep than those who don't.

They found a consistent association between children and adolescents who were on their screens at bedtime and a lack of sleep as well as poor sleep quality.

Furthermore, the same sleep problems were found where children had access to portable devices at night, even though they didn't use them at bedtime.

Dr. Ben Carter from King's College London, said the review provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality.

“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children's development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems,” he explained.

“With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse. Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to reduce access to these devices and encourage good sleeping habits near bedtime.”

It is thought that screen-based media devices adversely affect sleep through a variety of ways, including delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting sleep cycles, physiology and alertness.

Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to have adverse effects on health, including poor diet, obesity, sedative behaviour, reduced immune function and stunted growth, as well as links with mental health issues.

The review was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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