Too Much Media, Too Little Sleep

Sleep habits for kids may be negatively affected by media use

(RxWiki News) Monsters under the bed may not be what's keeping your kids up at night. The real culprits could be your television and computer.

A recent study found that more TV time and greater computer use were significantly associated with poorer sleep habits for kids.

This study also found that having a TV or computer in the bedroom was associated with poorer sleep habits for boys. 

"Limit your children's television and computer time."

This study was led by Teija Nuutinen, PhD, at the Folkhälsan Research Center in Helsinki, Finland. The research team examined whether electronic media use and media presence in a child's bedroom predicted sleep habits or changes in sleep habits for 10- and 11-year-old children.

This study was done as part of the Hälsoverkstaden Health Workshop school project. The researchers looked at television viewing, computer use and playing video games as the forms of media.

The study included 351 children from 27 schools in Finland who were followed for 18 months to record their media use and sleep habits. Children were asked how many hours per day they watched television, videos or DVDs, used a computer or played games with a console. Children were also asked whether they had a television set, computer or gaming console in their bedroom.

Sleep habits were determined by asking children about their bedtimes and their wake-up times during the week and weekend. Children were also asked about how often these sleep habits were disturbed.

The researchers took into account the following factors when analyzing the data: sleep habits at the beginning of the study, grade level (4th or 5th), gender and family structure (living with one or both parents).

The researchers found that more television viewing and computer use were significantly associated with later bedtimes and shorter sleep durationThey found more computer use to be significantly associated with negative changes in bedtime and sleep duration on both school days and weekends.

For boys, having either a computer or a television in the bedroom was associated with later bedtimes on school days and during the weekend. For girls, only having a television in the bedroom was associated with sleep habits (longer sleep duration on weekends).

The study authors concluded that television viewing and computer use may have a negative impact on sleep, which could lead to increased health risks over time.

This study was published on July 26 in BMC Public Health.

The authors reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
July 29, 2013