Most parents of toddlers and babies would agree that getting some more sleep at night would be nothing short of a miracle. If you feel like your child could use some extra shuteye, you may want to consider carefully removing the touchscreen device from their tiny toddler death-grip because a new study suggests that infants and toddlers who use these devices are not getting enough sleep.
Gizmodo reports about the study from Birkbeck University of London and published in Scientific Advances that looked at the sleep habits of more than 700 children ages six months to three years old. Researchers found that for every hour a child this age spends on a tablet or phone, a parent can expect them to sleep about 26 minutes less at night. These children tend to make up for only a fraction of their nighttime sleep by adding an extra 10 minutes to daytime naps.
This is big news when you consider that 75% of parents who own a touchscreen device share it with their young children. Lead author of the study Tim Smith explains, “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.” Not enough sleep at any age poses all kinds of health risks. It seems that young growing children who are regularly not sleeping enough can be especially damaging.
Though the new research is raising more awareness about the risks of touchscreen device use among young children, it is important that more research be done. Psychologist at Flinders University Michael Gradisar explains how the new information is interesting but lacking in some details. Gradisar says, “This was a survey of infants' and toddlers' touchscreen use and sleep, and so the type of protocol used does not tell us if touchscreen use causes poor sleep, or whether children with poor sleep are more likely to be given touch screen devices from their parents — for example, to distract them or settle them down.”
What do you think of the new study that suggests infant and toddler touchscreen device use may lead to reduced sleep time?
Do you think there is a link between screen use and lack of sleep in young children?