Parents, take note! Kids who use smartphones or tablets at bedtime may be at over twice the risk of having inadequate sleep, which may lead to various health issues such as obesity and a poor diet, a new study has found.
Researchers from Cardiff University in the UK, comprised a systematic review of 20 existing observational studies, involving 1,25,198 children, also found that sleep quality and day-time sleepiness were affected to a similar magnitude.
“Our study is the first to consolidate results across existing research and provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality,” said Ben Carter from Cardiff University.
“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems,” said Mr Carter.
“With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices, such as smartphones and tablets, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is set to get worse,” he said.
“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to improve sleep habits near bedtime,” Mr Carter added.
Currently 72 per cent of children and 89 per cent of adolescents have at least one device in their sleeping environment and most of these are used near bedtime.
Such devices are thought to adversely impact sleep through a variety of ways including displacing, delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting circadian timing, sleep physiology and alertness.
Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to lead to adverse physical and mental health consequences. Short and long term detrimental health outcomes include poor diet, sedative behaviour, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth and mental health issues.
The study appears in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.