Screen time at night for kids can result in sleep, nutrition problems, study says

Children, Pediatric Sleep Issues, Sleep

Kids who stay up late watching digital devices in bed may face sleep and nutrition problems, new research by Penn State College of Medicine discovered.

Researchers found that kids who use technology before bed got less sleep, had a poorer night’s sleep, and were more tired in the morning.

Further, kids who watched videos or TV before bed had higher body mass indexes (BMI).

“We saw technology before bed being associated with less sleep and higher BMIs,” Penn State researcher Caitlyn Fuller said. “We also saw this technology use being associated with more fatigue in the morning, which circling back, is another risk factor for higher BMIs. So, we’re seeing a loop pattern forming.”

To arrive at their findings, the team polled the parents of 234 children between the ages of 8 and 17 years about their kids’ sleep and technology habits. They asked parents to be specific about what devices they watched before going to bed — cell phones, computers, video games or television.

Kids who watched TV or playing video games before bed got about 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not. Kids who were on the phone or computer got about an hour less of sleep than those who did not. Those who had multiple technologies going – cell phones and TVs – for example, got even less sleep.

“We found an association between higher BMIs and an increase in technology use, and also that children who reported more technology use at bedtime were associated with less sleep at night,” Fuller said. “These children were also more likely to be tired in the morning, which is also a risk factor for higher BMIs.”

Research shows that 40 percent of children have cell phones by fifth grade.

The results support recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about screen time for children. The AAP says parents should create boundaries around technology use – such as no phones during meals or at bedtime.

“Although there are many benefits to using technology, pediatricians may want to counsel parents about limiting technology for their kids, particularly at bedtime, to promote healthy childhood development and mental health,” Marsha Novick, associate professor of pediatrics and family and community medicine at Penn State, said

The results were published in the journal Global Pediatric Health. The researchers said the study can help pediatricians talk to parents about the use of technology.

Source:  Life Science Daily

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