By Lisa Yang, ND
We all know that sleep is an important aspect of our health. Without getting an adequate amount of sleep we can become easily agitated, irritable, tired, and it can lead to a cyclical pattern of poor sleep. This blog post will present recent research showing the relationship between screen time, behavior, sleep quality as well as talk about steps you can take to make screen time guidelines and tips for a good night’s rest.
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics showed sleeping near a small screen, with a television in the room and more screen time were all associated with shorter sleep durations. Specifically, children who slept near a small screen reported on average 20 fewer minutes of sleep per day than those who never slept near a small screen. (1)
There have also been brain imaging studies that have shown less efficient information processing ability, reduced impulse inhibition, and poor task performance in individuals with excess screen time. Other studies have found physiological change in the brain’s white matter and atrophy of grey matter in adolescents with internet/gaming addiction. One of the main areas affected by this form of addiction is the frontal lobe which governs executive function. (2)
New screen time guidelines:
With all of these new studies and findings, the American Academy of Pediatrics have also recently revised their screen time recommendations:
Steps to take:
To avoid the possible negative repercussions of screen time, it is important to set up guidelines to limit access. The AAP recommends the Family Media Use Plan tool, launched by healthychildren.org. (3) It is a easy tool to help families set up rules with screen time. Guidelines for screen free zones and times, device curfews, how to balance online and off-line time, charging devices outside of the bedroom, and also discussing privacy settings are all recommended. For the Family Media Plan to be successful, it is important for everyone honor it.
Another recommendation would be to make screen time something that can be earned through good behavior, following directions, finishing chores and homework. A maximum amount of minutes that can be earned should also be established. This model allows good behavior to be rewarded, which is great positive feedback for many children and adolescents.
When it comes to bedtime, starting a routine is important.
Making changes or sticking with a Family Media Plan may be a difficult step for many families, but knowing that these steps can improve sleep quality and reduce any negative consequences of excess screen time makes it worthwhile.
Vital Kids Medicine, PLLC
3216 NE 45th Place suite #212
Seattle, WA 98105