A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics has shown that kids using electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets at bedtime are more than twice as likely to not get the sleep they need. And keeping the devices in the bedroom can also affect sleep, as children in the study were 50 percent more likely to have poor sleep and 200 percent more likely to be sleepy the next day. The researchers looked at studies involving 26,000 children between ages 6 and 19.
“Not getting enough sleep can lead to many health issues, including obesity, depression, mood disorders, anxiety and hyperactivity,” said Erin R. Frazier, M.D., pediatrician, Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Broadway. “We also know that being sleepy can change a child’s appetite, make reaction times slower and even hurt memory.”
Getting enough sleep can lead to better health in general by boosting the immune system. And when a child gets enough sleep, it leads to better behavior and performance at school.
“With homework, the number of activities children are involved in and the seemingly constant running around, it’s hard enough for children to get the necessary amounts of sleep,” Dr. Frazier said. “Stopping the use of devices before bed and removing them from the bedroom is an important step to helping your children get the sleep they need.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school-age children ages 6 to 12 get nine to 12 hours of sleep a night. Teens 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours.
“It’s extremely difficult to do, since many schools actually incorporate electronic devices into homework, especially as children get older,” Dr. Frazier said. “But set definite guidelines on when and where children are allowed to use devices. One of those places should not be in the bedroom at bedtime.”