We know that sleep is essential for the wellbeing of children and teens.
Sleep serves a restorative function for the muscular, skeletal, immune
and nervous system. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, has a deleterious
effect on the health of children and can lead to learning difficulties,
memory and concentration problems, behavioral disorders, and obesity.
Since today’s children are the most electronically engaged generation,
it is reasonable to ask whether electronics have any effects on their sleep.
A 2013 study published in BMC Public Health evaluated the use of media
in school-aged children. They found that computer and television viewing
during the day was associated with later bedtimes and shorter sleep duration.
The presence of either a computer or television in the bedroom was further
related to irregular sleep habits. It appears that computer or television
viewing is displacing sleep in this age group. This is alarming. The team
in this study recommends that electronic media devices should not be placed
in a child’s bedroom.
So, what else can parents do to help their children get a better night sleep?
- Provide an evening environment that is conducive to sleep.
- Turn the electronics off and have a relaxing family time.
- Teach the child to do his or her homework earlier in the evening rather
than close to bedtime.
A 2014 National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep In America Poll found that
children tend to sleep better when their parents establish rules, limit
technology, and set a good example. The Foundation also recommends that
children ages 6 to 10 get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night and children
ages 11 to 17 years of age get 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night.