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Sleep Findings

There are numerous studies by the most respected organizations that have released disturbing findings. 70 per cent of teens sleep with a device in their bedrooms and 1/3rd of them wake up at least once a night to check notifications. These are disturbing figures from a 2019 Common Sense Media research report. Kids, tech use and sleep is an under-researched area, and yet the effects of screens on sleep and kids are disturbing.

 At Just For The Children, ‘Sleep and Screens’ is one of our most important topics for advocacy and parent advice. If growing children do not get enough sleep it affects much more than their own physical, mental, cognitive and emotional development. It affects the entire class, the school, the community and more. It affects weight, mood, academics and increases risky behavior.  We need more interventions and practical advice for parents. We know that “Blue Light” affects adult sleep and exposure up to one hour before bedtime can affect the quality and quantity of sleep. The effects it has on children needs much more research. 

Research Summary

Much research has been conducted on 'children, screens and sleep.' The quantity and quality of sleep a child who sleeps with a device in the bedroom is compromised but more work needs to be done.

 

Children sleep much later due to the addictive nature of screens, and often their own parents display similar behavior. 

Screens emit blue light which stimulates the developing brain and affect the way a child behaves, eats, and learns.  Sleep is meant to be a restorative time for a child's developing brain.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Parents are a child's first role models and must put their own screens in a separate room before the sleep. 

  • Bringing back the good old fashioned alarm clock is a great answer to the excuse that screens should be in the bedrooms as their "morning wake-up" call!

  • Families should have central charging stations in a central area, and devices should be in these stations at least one hour before a child's bedtime. Other reports say 2 hours. Either way, these simple steps can help a child establish sleep hygiene which leads to other healthy outcomes.

  • Families should plan for children to sleep between 8 and 10 hours a night, during key developmental tween and teen years.

  • The American Association of Pediatrics has guidelines according to a child's age. Follow them because you won't get those years back. Children have a short window to develop and grow and the window closes for good.

Sources

LeBourgeois, M.K., Hale, L., Chang, A., Akacem, L.D., Montgomery-Downs, H.E., & Buxton, O.M. (2017). Digital Media and Sleep in Childhood and Adolescence. Pediatrics, 140(140S2). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758J

AAP technical report "Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences"
AAP News story “CDC: Lack of sleep associated with risky behavior among teens”
Healthy People 2020 and sleep health,

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