With the number of different types of devices out there, it’s tough to avoid screen time — especially for teenagers who live by their cell phones and gadgets. Parents have wrung their hands and tried to limit screen time for years, but now, a recent study confirms that too much screen time can actually be bad for kids’ health.
The study surveyed the sleeping habits and screen time of about 10,000 Norwegians between the ages of 17 and 19. The study basically found that the more screen time teenagers have, the worse they sleep and the harder it is for them to wake in the morning.
According to the study, teens reported that they need between eight and nine hours of sleep per night to feel rested; however, teens who had more than four hours of screen time a day were 3.5 times more likely to sleep for about half that — about four hours.
One of the reasons teens spend so much time on devices these days is actually a good thing — they’re reading. More than 40% of teens have bought a e-book from an online retailer like Amazon to read on an eReader device, like a Kindle
With the recent boom of popular fantasy fiction novels like “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” and “Twilight” it’s no wonder that teens are reading more, but research is increasingly showing that old-fashioned print books might be a better options when it comes to regulating teens’ sleep habits.
The Guardian reported in December that a new study out of Harvard University undertook to explore the effects of eReaders on teens’ sleep. The findings corroborate those of the Norway study. Not only does using an eReader before bed make it harder for teens to fall asleep, but it could indicate that the light emitted by eReaders messes with the circadian rhythm — which is basically the body’s clock that tells us when to sleep and wake.
“In today’s world of online gaming, cell phones, and social media, print books can have a tough time competing for young people’s attention. One of the best ways parents can help reduce ‘screen time’ is simply by purchasing great books and putting those books in the hands of their children.” says Scotty Sanders, author of ‘Quest of the Keys.’
Teens describe about 50% of their friends as book readers and say they talk about books with their friends, which is a positive result of the wealth of YA fiction that’s out there. Reading is therapeutic and directive, and is generally a good skill to have and practice to engage in. Just perhaps not on a tablet in the hours before bed.