A new British sleep study shows that electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones can have a negative impact on young children. The study reveals that children who are spending too much time using gadgets for entertainment or educational purposes sleep less than children who are introduced to electronic devices much later. The National Sleep Foundation said that every minute of sleep is important for the toddler’s physical and mental well-being.
Can Gadgets Affects Sleep Quality?
Dr. Tim Smith of the Birbeck University of London and the study’s co-authors declared that while the use of gadgets in the toddler’s education is essential, recent data shows that prolonged screen exposure can potentially affect their sleep quality. The study’s results pointed out that children between six and 11 months old who’re using gadgets are more likely to sleep up to 15 minutes less per day than those who don’t use them.
Early exposure to touchscreen devices, laptops, or PCs would mean that toddlers will sleep 26.8 minutes less during the night and a total of 10.8 minutes less during the afternoon nap. However, the study does have a couple of caveats.
Should We Not Allow Our Children to Use Gadgets?
According to Dr. Tim Smith, the study’s co-author, the paper does indeed show that there may be a connection between the use of gadgets and less sleep in toddlers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that smartphone are deleterious to children, nor that they must be utterly removed.
In fact, the study’s co-author pointed out that smartphones and tablets can be valuable assets in the toddler’s education and must not be dismissed. However, Smith pointed out that parents must enforce some sort of ground rules when it comes to using touchscreen devices.
For example, parents should be mindful about telling their children to put away their gadgets one or two hours prior to bedtime to ensure a good-quality sleep. In addition, they should also limit the use of gadgets during the day, meaning that they should make sure that their children take a 10-minute break every hour.
Most importantly, the parents should always check to see if the apps used by their children are age-appropriate. On this note, it would be a good idea to turn on your device’s child mode. This way, you can make sure that your child only accesses or downloads appropriate applications.
Smith said that we should take the study’s results with a grain of salt and hold off the witch-hunt before more data is gathered on the subject.
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