The amount of time children spend on electronic devices has little influence on their sleeping hours, a latest study by Oxford University suggests. This study was carried-out by the Oxford Internet Institute, a multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford and aimed at exploring the impact of gadget screen-time on children’s sleeping habits and timings.
Oxford scientists used data from the United States’ 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health for this research , where parents completed surveys with questions related to their child’s sleeping patterns and households. The sample size for the Oxford sleep study was 50,000+ teenagers and included respondents from all the states in the US. The researchers calculated kids’ “digital screen time” on the basis of responses drawn from two leading questions, including their weekday habits and the number of hours they spent on gadgets, particularly children aged between six months to 17 years.
According to the results of the Oxford sleep study, an “extremely modest” relationship was present between screen time and school-age children. It further indicated that each hour of screen-time reduced 3 to 8 minutes of sleep from a child’s sleeping time. This correlation was thought-to be minor, failing to make a notable difference in the child’s sleep timings and hence challenged previous research findings that linked excessive usage of gadgets and disturbances within child’s sleeping patterns.
The findings of the research also indicated that students who abstained from technology slept slightly longer than their peers and friends who spent more time on gadgets. For example, children who had no time in front of the screen slept for eight hours and 51 minutes of sleep, while those who spent eight hours of their day on the gadgets slept for eight hours and 21 minutes.
Professor Andrew Przybylski, the author of the study, emphasised on the need to explore other variables to help improve their sleeping patterns, such as the activities of children before going to bed.
Screens are now a significant fixture of modern childhood and parents as well as academicians are highly concerned with the physical and mental effects of these gadgets on children and the amount of time they spend on them. Researchers have also expressed their concern about the blue light emitted from these gadgets and how it leads to disturbances in sleeping patterns and related hormones. US National Sleep Foundation has also warned parents to stop their children from using devices before bedtime “because the blue light emitted from these screens could possibly delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin”.