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Based on research by Cheung, Celeste H., Bedford, R., De Urabain, I. R. S., Karmiloff-Smith, A., & Smith, Tim J. (2017) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.
Touchscreens for toddlers can be stimulating and educational, teaching language, coordination, and even basics of reading and math. Busy parents like to keep their child occupied with TV, videos and games. Yet the screens expose us all to high energy blue light, shown to disrupt normal sleep schedules. But what about kids?
A UK study showed 75% of kids between the ages 6 months to three years use a touchscreen device such as an iPad or smartphone every day. In this study, researchers distributed an online survey to 715 parents and asked them to described their child’s technology use including daily exposure to television, touchscreen use and sleep habits. Results revealed that for every additional hour spent using a touchscreen, the children lost almost 16 minutes of sleep. The more media use, the longer it took children to fall asleep, and less time they spent sleeping during the night. Though they spent more time sleeping during the day, overall, sleep was still less.
Further research is needed. Yet, since we know sleep is essential for a child’s healthy development, caution suggests to limit screen time, especially an hour before sleep time. Have regular bedtimes.
Cheung, C. H., Bedford, R., De Urabain, I. R. S., Karmiloff-Smith, A., & Smith, T. J. (2017). Daily touchscreen use in infants and toddlers is associated with reduced sleep and delayed sleep onset. Scientific Reports, 7.