Print Edition - 2017-04-20  |  Health and Living

Touchscreen-toddlers sleep less, researchers say

  • children’s health

Apr 20, 2017-

Toddlers who spend time playing on smartphones and tablets seem to get slightly less sleep than those who do not, say researchers. The study in Scientific Reports suggests every hour spent using a touchscreen each day was linked to 15 minutes less sleep. However, those playing with touchscreens do develop their fine motor skills more quickly.

Experts said the study was “timely” but parents should not lose sleep over it.

There has been an explosion in touchscreens in the home, but understanding their impact on early childhood development has been lacking. Dr Tim Smith, a researcher said: “It isn’t a massive amount when you’re sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep.” The study is not definitive, but Dr Smith says it “seems to indicate touchscreens have some association with possible sleep problems”.

However, his research has also shown toddlers who actively use touchscreens (swiping rather than watching) accelerate their development of motor skills.

He says the best bet is to follow similar rules for the amount of time spent in front of the TV.

That means putting a limit on the total time spent on devices, ensuring children still do physical things, ensuring that content is age-appropriate, and avoiding the screens in the hour before bedtime.

Published: 20-04-2017 09:21

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