Since many young people spend a lot of time on electronic devices, such as their computers and smartphones, it’s no longer parents, caregivers, and policy-makers are severely worried for the effects of these digital activities on individuals’ health. Studies in the past have indicated that 50 to 90% of school-age children are not getting proper sleep due to technology and excessive screen-time. However, new research, carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, suggests that screen-time actually has little to no significant effect on kids’ sleep.
The research was conducted by examining data collected from the United States’ 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health and published in the Journal of Pediatrics. In this survey, parents have provided lots of information about themselves, their children and household. The findings indicate that there is no significant relationship between sleep and children’s screen-time.
A link between screen time and sleep in children exists, but it’s simply too small to make a difference in kids’ sleep. Even 8 hours of screen time a day doesn’t make a significant impact on school-aged children’s sleep. Other known factors, such as early morning classes have a more significant impact on sleep. The analysis in the study indicated that family habits and household surroundings are associated not only with sleep outcomes but also with the amount of screen-time a child spends every day. Dr. Przybylski, the lead author of the study, emphasizes the importance of focusing on bedtime routines and regular sleep patterns for healthy and undisturbed sleep. Overall, he claims implementing healthy sleeping habits is more efficient for getting proper rest on a daily basis than thinking being exposed to screens themselves disrupts sleep.
This study aims to provide parents with a realistic foundation for looking at the impact of electronics and screen time on sleep, and to compare them with other interventions on sleep. Further studies will try to identify the mechanisms that link digital screens to sleep. Researchers will specifically be examining technologies that emit blue light that has been linked to many sleep problems. However, although there are studies that indicate blue light might disturb sleep, there is still no clear evidence that it plays a significant causal role. Since technology such as computers, TVs, and smartphones are here to stay, it’s vital for scientists to conduct research and find out how all that tech actually affects us, and the best ways to limit its harmful effects.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic