Our addiction to smartphones and tablets may have spilled over to our children. More and more, kids are using these devices regularly, and it might be affecting their sleep, according to a study out of the University of London.
The blue light emitting from mobile devices is known to cause sleeplessness; and, toddlers and young children are particularly susceptible to this effect. In fact, the researchers found just one hour of touch screen time can lead to 15 minutes of less sleep at night for children.
The study surveyed over 700 parents with kids under the age of 3 who reported their children’s behavior and habits when it came to electronic devices.
Out of those surveyed, 75 percent of parents said that their toddlers used a smartphone or tablet daily. The parents also reported on their children’s sleeping habits, which helped the researchers make a clearer connection between screen time and potentially disrupted sleep.
“[The study] seems to indicate touchscreens have some association with possible sleep problems,” said Dr. Tim Smith, one of the authors of the study. “It isn’t a massive amount when you’re sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep.”
However, the toddlers who used mobile devices interactively had quicker motor skill development. The researchers found that using a screen – instead of just watching it – helped to hone the children’s fine motor skills.
“As the first study to investigate associations between sleep and touchscreen use in infancy, this is a timely piece of research,” said Dr. Anna Joyce, Cognitive Developmental researcher at Coventry University. “In light of these findings, and what we know from previous research, it may be worth parents limiting touchscreen, other media use, and blue light in the hours before bedtime. Until we know more about how touchscreens affect sleep, they shouldn’t be banned completely.”
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