It is not uncommon nowadays to see even the youngest of children with their hands on a tablet or a smartphone, completely distracted from their surroundings as their parents get some well-deserved rest. It's not a particularly comfortably accepted notion to be giving children access to such technology at a very early age, and a recent study found an association between daily screen time and sleep problems.
Daily Screen Time And Sleep Problems
Apart from the currently standing link between a significant amount of screen time and sleep problems as well as poor developmental outcomes in children, a new study is now extending the links for portable touch screen devices, and reduced infant sleep.
Using an online survey, researchers of the study gathered a total of 715 responses from parents regarding their children's media usage including television and touch screen devices, and sleeping patterns including sleep duration, frequency of night awakenings, and sleep onset.
Though no links were found between night awakenings and media usage, it was found that every hour of media usage was linked to a 15.6 minute decrease in total sleep. What's more, infants and toddlers who are exposed to prolonged media usage take a longer amount of time to fall asleep.
The results found by researchers are consistent with a previous study which found negative effects of touchscreen device usage on older children and adolescents' sleep quality and quantity.
Infants And Toddlers Touchscreen Usage
It is worth noting that the results of the study were gathered from parents of infants who are between the ages of 6 and 36 months, which is a pretty early stage for children to be exposed to such technology. What's more it is at this stage that children need the most amount of sleep for strong development.
However, while researchers did, in fact, establish a relationship between touchscreen usage and reduced sleep for infants, they do acknowledge the need for further studies especially in establishing the impact of reduced sleep to cognitive development.
Further, they also take into consideration recent research wherein it was found that active touch screen usage allows for the fast and early achievements in fine motor development among infants, hence stating the potential benefits of such devices in young children.
Perhaps as with most technological advancements, moderation is the key to taking in the benefits while reducing adverse effects. The balance of which is something that researchers are hoping to find in the future.