Just as parents are starting to get used to the idea of letting their children use mobile devices and digital media, a new study warns that too much use might be a bad thing. Sure, having access to the internet—to information, to communication, to a bit of distraction now and then—can have a positive impact on growing, inquisitive children, but this study warns that in many ways parents need to be vigilant about device use for children.
And this is particularly true around bed time.
“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems,” explains Ben Carter from King’s College London. The leader of a new study investigating the impact of digital devices near bed time, Carter goes on to say, “With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep among children is likely to get worse.”
Currently, research shows that approximately 72% of all children and around 89% of adolescents have one or more mobile devices within easy access in the bedroom; most of these youth use their devices regularly, before bedtime.
Health experts advise that, at least for children, a good night’s sleep should should be defined as falling asleep easily and then also staying asleep for at least nine straight hours. Of course, restricting use of mobile devices so close to bedtime does not necessarily guarantee that a child will achieve what is defined as a “good night’s sleep,” but it could certainly help.
The study authors report the collection of a meta-analysis through 11 different studies which had observed the relationship between children and their mobile devices.
In one example, thus, the researchers note that more than 31 percent of children who do not have access to a mobile device before bedtime report not getting enough sleep. However, 41 percent of children who do have access to their device—and 45.4 percent of those who use it before bed—report the same problem.
And the pattern is similar in regards to sleep quality. Roughly 34 percent of kids who do not have access to their mobile device before bed report poor sleep quality while 44 percent of children who have their device and 52 percent of those who use it report the same issue.