Toddlers Who Use Touch Screens Sleep Less: Study
A new study published in Scientific Reports suggests that toddlers who spend time playing on smart phones and tablets get slightly less sleep than their peers who don't play with the devices. In fact, toddlers got 15 minutes less sleep for every hour spent using a touch screen each day. At the same time, the study also finds that kids who play with touch screens appear to develop fine motor skills more quickly than other children.
More than 700 parents of children under three years old took part in the study at the University of London. Researchers found that three-quarters of the toddlers used a touch screen on a daily basis: roughly half of the kids between six and 11 months used one, while more than 90 percent of those between 25 and 36 months used smart phones or tablets each day.
Discussing the 15 fewer minutes of sleep for each hour spent with a device, Dr. Tim Smith, one of the researchers, told BBC News that while "it isn't a massive amount when you're sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total … every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep." Noting that the science around smart phones, tablets and toddlers "is very immature," Dr. Smith said that research is "really lagging behind the technology and it's too early to make clear proclamations." The best approach for parents right now, he added, is to follow rules similar to those recommended for TV watching: i.e., ensuring children stay physically active, limiting the total time they spend on devices, making sure that the content they see is age-appropriate, and turning off the screen at least an hour before bedtime.
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