Touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets are now fixtures of
many households, so it comes as little surprise to learn that young children
who don’t work or go to school are among their most active users.In the first study
of it’s kind, researchers have learned that infants and toddlers who spend more time
on these devices sleep less at night.It’s a troubling finding,but the reasons for these
sleep disruptions are still unclear.
Michael Gradisar,a psychologist at Flinders University who wasn’t involved with the study,says this research raises awareness
of the fact that babies are using technological devices,but does little to explain the reasons
behind the reported correlations.
Gradisar brings up a bunch of good points, including the issue of artificial lighting.
Previous studies have indicated that light from electronic devices may interrupt the body’s
natural circadian rhythm , making it more difficult to fall asleep. This might explain why kids
who use touchscreens are having a harder time falling asleep and why they’re getting less sleep overall,
but more research is need to suss that out.
Denying our children access to these devices wholesale is neither desirable or achievable. Touchscreens are now a reality of modern life,
so we need to figure out how and why these devices might be affecting our children, and develop sensible guidelines to manage their use.