Too much screen time before bed can significantly affect both the sleeping patterns of teenagers and directly affect their emotional state, researchers in Norway have found.
The massive study looked at over 10,000 16-19 year olds and found that the longer they looked at their smartphones, tablets or TVs, the worse their night's sleep was going to be.
By looking at a screen for over four hours in a day, teenagers were then found to be 49 per cent more likely to have problems going to sleep.
The study -- which is being published in the online journal BMJ Open -- suggests that there is a direct link between over-use of technology and increased levels of anxiety and depression in children.
Speaking to the Independent, Dr Mari Hysing, of the Norwegian research centre Uni Research Health suggested that while a complete ban of technology was clearly impractical, simple measures could be put in place that would help.
“Parents should be aware of the use of all types of electronic devices in the bedroom, at a minimum, keep the night-time screen-free in the bedroom, and ideally be logged off an hour or so before they go to sleep,”
With smartphones and small handheld games consoles more prevalent than ever with the younger generation, there's a concern that this pattern will in fact worsen rather than improve.
The study found:
- use of any device during the day and in the hour before going to sleep was correlated with taking longer than 60 minutes to get to sleep.
- use of a screen in the hour before sleep was significantly linked to taking longer to fall asleep
- participants who spent 2 hours emailing or chatting online were three times more likely to sleep for less than 5 hours a night.
“The recommendations for healthy media use given to parents and adolescents need updating, and age specific guidelines regarding the quantity and timing of electronic media use should be developed,” the study said.
“The current recommendation is not to have a TV in the bedroom. It seems, however, that there may be other electronic devices exerting the same negative influence on sleep, such as PCs and mobile phones. The results confirm recommendations for restricting media use in general,” they conclude.