Researchers from the University of Helsinki said sleep may be particularly important for pre-teens on the cusp of puberty because they are experiencing so many hormonal changes.
They asked 353 children aged between 10 and 11 about their TV, computer and sleeping habits. The children were then questioned again 18 months later.
Results showed that the children who watched the most TV and played more frequently on the computer also went to bed later and slept less on school nights.
The presence of a TV or computer in a child’s bedroom was found to be particularly disruptive for young boys.
The report, published in the journal BMC Public Health, said that children who play a lot of computer games also tend to exercise less, therefore making them less tired at bedtime.
Researcher Teija Nuutinen said: “Children need extra sleep as they go through puberty but our study finds that TV and computer use affect the sleep of children.”
Lack of sleep can impact performance at school as well as mental well-being and health. It may be advisable to keep electronic devices out of children’s bedrooms and downstairs where usage can be monitored.
For children who show signs of short attention spans and other behavioral problems, getting a good night’s sleep is especially important.
Unfortunately TV, computer games and the Internet can all be incredibly addictive for both children and adults. To find out how counselling can help wean people off addictions to technology, please visit our Internet Addiction page.
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