Nightly Screen Time Harms Kids’ Mental Health, Sleep Patterns

Nightly Screen Time Harms Kids’ Mental Health, Sleep Patterns

By Movieguide® Contributor

A new study finds that young people’s screen use at night can disrupt their sleeping patterns. 

“[Daily screen time] lower[s] psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks,” Psychiatrist Dr. Sid Khurana at Nevada Mental Health explained.

“Teens started sleeping later when they played more video games than their daily average. They also [fell] asleep later on days they use their phones to communicate with their friends, and it also impacts total sleep duration,” Sleepopolis reported of the study. 

The source explained that playing video games before bed meant kids took longer to fall asleep, adding that “limiting screen-based activities generally helps their well-being and sleep health.”

“If teens typically play video games for an hour each day, but one day a new game comes out and they play for four hours, that’s three additional hours more than they typically play,” said David Reichenberger, who conducted another teen sleep study for Penn State. 

He continued, “So, that means they could have 15 minutes of delayed sleep timing that night. For a child, losing 15 minutes of sleep at night is significant. It’s especially difficult when they have to get up in the morning for school; if they’re delaying their sleep, they can’t make up for it in the morning. Without adequate sleep, kids are at increased risk of obesity, as well as impaired cognition, emotion regulation and mental health.”

These findings are similar to a study done by Common Sense Media about young people’s phone use. 

“Phone use at night serves several purposes for young people, primarily to try to unwind at the end of the day (something parents use it for too!),” they wrote. “However, our youth advisors felt that social media and video content is both relaxing and sleep-displacing, and can become a procrastination strategy.”

Movieguide® previously reported on the impact screen time can have on sleep:

A new study has uncovered the true impact social media scrolling before bed has on Americans’ sleep quality. 

“If you’re guilty of using your phone right before bed, you could be tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, thanks to the blue light your phone emits,” Mattress Next Day reported

The Sleep Foundation explained that the blue light given off by phones and laptop screens can “reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening and decrease feelings of sleepiness. Blue light can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.”

In another study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that “using mobile phones during bedtime affected sleep,” and that reducing the use of phones before bedtime “increased sleep duration, positive affect, and working memory.”

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