HEALTH

Here's All The Evidence On Kids, Mobile Phones And Sleep

You can decide for yourself whether screen time before sleep is a good idea.

31/10/2016 10:11 AM AEDT | Updated 02/11/2016 4:21 PM AEDT
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Using smart phones before sleep may not be so smart after all.

Maybe your kid has a bedtime app or likes to watch a favourite YouTube video as they fall asleep.

Whatever the reason, phones, tablets and laptops are as pervasive as books for most children. But what does the science say about how it affects sleep?

King's College London researchers brought together 20 peer-reviewed studies from around the world to see whether there was an association between screen-based media in the sleep environment, and sleep quality and quantity.

John Slater
If your child is sleepy in the day time, he might not be getting quality sleep at night.

They found a consistent association between bedtime media device use and lack of sleep, as well as excessive daytime sleepiness.

Curiously, children who had access to a device but didn't use it were still more likely to have interrupted sleep and experience excessive daytime sleepiness.

Why is sleep so important for kids?

The study found sleep disturbance in childhood could lead serious consequences including poor diet, sedentary behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth, mental health issues and substance abuse.

Two studies looked at daytime sleepiness among children with and without access to screens and a comparison showed 21.3 percent of children with devices experienced daytime sleepiness compared to 6.7 percent of children who didn't.

A further seven studies looked at the causes of children not getting enough sleep and found kids with devices in their bedroom were 45.4 percent likely to have inadequate sleep compared to 31.5 percent who didn't.

Images By Tang Ming Tung
Getting to sleep can be a cinche at the wrong place and the wrong time.

All in all, the review found the majority of studies reported statistically significant evidence of an association between screens in the sleep environment and inadequate sleep quantity (six of seven studies), poor sleep quality (four of six studies), and excessive daytime sleepiness (three of four studies).

"We recommend that interventions to minimize device access and use need to be developed and evaluated. Interventions should include a multidisciplinary approach from teachers and health care professionals to empower parents to minimize the deleterious influences on child health," the report said.

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