According to a study done by Birkbeck, University of London, every hour of smartphone or tablet use has been linked to 15 minutes less sleep. However, they add that using these devices early on can help develop a child’s fine motor skills.
They sleep less at night, and more during the day
The study showed that 75% of the toddlers used a touchscreen device on a daily basis, with 51% of those between six and 11 months using one, and 92% of those between 25 and 36 months doing the same.
The researchers found that those who used touch screens tend to sleep more in the day, and less at night. With every hour of smartphone or tablet use accounting for 15 minutes less sleep during the night.
Every minute of sleep matters
According to Dr. Tim Smith, one of the researchers, “It isn’t a massive amount when you’re sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep.”
Interestingly, their research also showed that toddlers who use touchscreen devices tend to have more developed fine motor skills compared to children who don’t use touchscreens.
However, Dr. Smith adds, “It’s very tricky right now, the science is very immature, we are really lagging behind the technology and it’s too early to make clear proclamations.”
He recommends that parents apply the same rules they have when it comes to the time that their kids spend on the television. This also means that aside from monitoring how much their kids use the devices, they should also monitor what exactly their kids do on the phone, as well as if they’re using it to browse any websites, as they might encounter content that’s not appropriate for their age.
Balance is important
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to strike a balance between their gadget use as well as their other activities. Getting too addicted to playing games, watching videos, or browsing on a smartphone can have a negative impact on children.
Which is why placing an emphasis on both their mental as well as their physical development is necessary so that kids can grow up well-rounded and healthy.
Sources: bbc.com, nature.com
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