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article imageChildren who use touchscreen devices sleep poorly at night

By Tim Sandle     Apr 13, 2017 in Health
London - Many parents deliberate over when to give young children mobile devices. One piece of new research that could well make parents think further shows that kids who spend a lot of time on touchscreen devices sleep poorly.
The reason for the sleep deprivation is not to do with children staying up into the small hours playing on touchscreen devices but more related to the amount of time during the day that children spend playing with smartphones and tablets. The reason who high daytime activity correlates with reduced sleep at night is unclear. This findings add to earlier studies that show that watching too much television (be that broadcast programs or the playing of video games) is linked with less sleep for children.
The new research, which said to be the first comprehensive review of children's interactions with touchscreen devices and sleep, was conducted at Birkbeck College in the U.K., which is part of the University of London. The findings, summarized by Gizmodo, showed that each additional hour of touchscreen device use among children aged between the ages of six months and three years leads to around 15 minutes less total sleep.
This found from conducting surveys with the parents of 715 infants and toddlers. Of these children, about 70 percent lived in homes where there was an accessible touchscreen device. Of this subset, 75 percent of young children used a touchscreen device on a daily basis. Commenting on the outcomes, lead researcher Dr. Tim Smith told the The Daily Telegraph: "These results indicate that the popularity and accessibility of touchscreen devices has led to high levels of usage by babies and toddlers, and this is associated with reduced sleep."
The major risk from lack of sleep at such young ages is with harming brain development. Sleep is important during the first few years of life when “neural plasticity” is at its greatest. This is an umbrella term that describes lasting change to the brain throughout an individual's life course. Here there is a critical period in early childhood.
The research has been published in Nature Scientific Reports, with the research paper titled "Daily touchscreen use in infants and toddlers is associated with reduced sleep and delayed sleep onset." Subsequent research will seek to explain why touchscreen interactions seem to cause sleep disruption with the young.
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