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Smart Phones’ Effect On Your Child's Sleep

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Smart Phones’ Effect On Your Child's Sleep

Jan 16, 2017

Your child may want to take his or her smartphone or tablet to bed. But is it a good idea? Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says using a mobile device before bed reduces sleep time for kids, which can disrupt sleep quality and quantity. Learn more about what parents should know before allowing mobile devices at bedtime.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: A new study revealed that the presence of smartphones, tablets or laptops in the children's bedroom may negatively affect their quality and quantity of sleep. I'll discuss what this means for your electronically-wired child today on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: It's no secret that using an electronic device at night can lead to reduced sleeping time. I mean, how many times do you have to tell your child to put away the phone and get to bed? The recent study shows that the mere presence of these devices in the bedroom could also disrupt sleep quality and quantity in kids. Kids need sleep and often parents don't realize how much of it they need. It's an undervalued but important part of their development and not sleeping well can cause a variety of health problems, especially behavior problems.

More and more, schools are replacing books with computers and tablets so the poor sleep problem is likely to get worse. This study shows that for kids between the ages of 6 and 19, 41% who had their mobile device in the bedroom didn't sleep enough hours. Forty-five percent of children who used their electronic device before sleeping had the highest percentage of reduced sleep hours.

But only 31% of kids who did not have access to their mobile devices had sleep deprivation. In addition, 52% of kids who used their mobile devices reported poor sleep quality and 44% of kids who had access to their mobile devices had poor sleep. About 34% of the children with no access to their devices at night reported poor sleep.

So while the results do not show that device use causes sleep quality issues, the researchers noted parents should be aware of how the mobile device influences keeping their kids awake at night. There is a theory that the digital content of the devices could psychologically stimulate children, making them more awake. Also, the light coming from these devices could disrupt the body's circadian rhythm. So the best advice, make sure all electronics are out of your child's bedroom. They will get better overall sleep and that will make for a happier, healthier child.

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