Health & Fitness

Smartphones might equal sleep trouble for children

Yui Matusmoto, 4, plays with a digital duck toy, in the living room of his home in Tokyo.
Yui Matusmoto, 4, plays with a digital duck toy, in the living room of his home in Tokyo. AP

Children don’t even have to actively use smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for those devices to prompt sleep troubles, a new study found.

Researchers for the study reviewed data from 20 prior studies to create the report. The studies focused on the association between kids using devices before bedtime and their sleep quality.

This study, and others, have found that children who use smartphones, tablets or other devices at bedtime more frequently don’t get enough sleep, have poor sleep quality and are excessively tired during the day.

Data from this most recent research included more than 125,000 children, with the average age being 14 years old. The study was led by Ben Carter of King's College London and published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Carter’s team found that just having smartphones, tablets, or other devices in a child’s bedroom was enough to show an effect. But the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

How the devices affect sleep

▪ Children can become distracted and push back bedtimes.

▪ Screen lights may confuse their body's biological clock.

▪ Text messages and other beeps can wake up children during the night.

Without quality sleep, children are more at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, among other health conditions. Plus, sleep helps childrens’ attention, immune system and emotions.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn

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