A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

Touchscreens May Affect Children’s Sleep

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The use of tablet devices has exploded since 2010, when only four percent of adults owned 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 that 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 that this 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 that their toddlers used a touchscreen device more often also found that their children 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 an average of 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 that 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. 

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