A new study has concluded that children that have any contact with smartphones and tablets just before bedtime are more likely to have sleeping problems. The team of researchers also found that sleeping problems provoked by the use of those devices can later lead to poor health outcomes.
The new study was published in JAMA Pediatrics and consisted in analyzing 20 earlier studies relating portable media devices and sleep quality. All the studies evaluated over 120,000 children between the ages 6 and 19.
When comparing the studies’ results, researchers found that kids who went to bed with a portable device were more likely to report poor sleep, not enough sleep, and consequently, daytime sleepiness, than those children that did not use any mobile devices at bedtime.
The authors explained that children who used devices in their bedroom before going to sleep were more than twice vulnerable to not getting enough sleep than those who did not have access to tablets and smartphones before bedtime. The research found that 46 percent of kids using portable devices at bedtime reported a poor night’s sleep. Children using mobile devices before going to bed are three times more likely to be sleepy during the day.
An impressive number of children evaluated in different studies -79 percent- reported having an inadequate sleep, while 53 percent said they slept poorly and more than half of them were exposed to daytime sleepiness.
The recently published research is the first of its kind, in the view of the authors. Still, it has some limitations. First, not all the 20 studies considered in the paper were randomized and controlled, an essential characteristic in any study that aspires to be taken seriously by the scientific community. The other limitation is that the authors did not include studies addressing T.V. exposure, a critical media present in almost all the rooms of an American home.
To avoid portable devices to perturb children’s sleep, parents should avoid submission and go for educational interventions, explaining their kids the dangers of those devices and teaching them when to use them. The study recommends automatic time switches in the portable devices near bedtime and says to professionals to take into consideration the use of smartphones and tablets as a potential cause when treating sleepy kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new guidelines on screen time for toddlers
The AAP’s new guidelines on screen time not only highlight the dangers of media but also the benefits, for which they established healthy exposure times for the little ones of the house. The study was published on October 21 and explains why children cannot be continually exposed to screens.
Experts of the AAP say that kids stop doing essential activities because they get distracted by media and it affects babies and teenagers. When young ones are constantly in front of a screen, they put aside important activities such as playing outside and do physical activities, study, socialize face-to-face and sleep.
The new guidelines recommend that children between 18 and 24 months can be introduced to media but only if parents are supervising. Parents need to be there to explain kids the difference between screen reality and the real world. The time in front of screens must be schedule. The same recommendations apply for children ages 2 to 5 but their time in front of a screen must be limited to one hour to ensure they have time to do other activities, like sleeping.
Once kids are 6years old or older, they can enjoy more media time and parents only have to guarantee they have time to study, play outside and get enough sleep.
Source: JAMA Pediatrics