Screen Time Affecting Our Youth’s Sleep Time

By Fernando Meza  Ever since mobile phone have been getting smarter, cheaper, larger and more prevalent as a necessity to most nowadays, there have been concerns that the bright light that the device emits disrupts our body’s natural circadian rhythms. According to sciencedaily.com, “a circadian rhythm is a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature” which basically means that the screen light from mobile phones or basically any kind of device with a screen such as laptops and televisions can also make it harder for our body to get into “sleep mode”! Which is why it is recommended for the best night’s sleep it is best to avoid any kind of screen especially those that are handheld which are closest to ones face and brighter to one’s eyes to be put away from sight at least two hours before going to bed.   Although this issue affects pretty much everybody now a days that have some kind of technological device at hand, this article will focus on how it is affecting our youth and their development. An article by Deborah Netburn from the Los Angeles Times has enlightened many on how it is becoming a growing problem for its younger users and adolescents as a well-rounded good night’s sleep is crucial for their developing minds and bodies as part of their growth and development.   In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that the problem is getting worse now that technology is being used more and more not only for entertainment purposes for kids, but also for the academics as they are replacing textbooks for E-books through their own or school tablets and/or laptops. Even if most school-aged children and adolescents don’t have a phone, they have access to their parents or issued one from their school which in turn is affecting their sleep. Nowadays, even babies and toddlers have and are using tablets and a number of different hand held devices, such as Leap Frog, which are used to stimulate their tiny minds.   JAMA’s research goes as far to say that their studies even think just having access to a device in their bedroom can also affect the quality of said child’s sleep. The researchers report 72% of all children and 89% of adolescents have at least one mobile device in the bedroom, and most of them regularly use it before bedtime and that digital content can be psychologically stimulating and that light emitted from devices affects circadian timing, making it difficult to fall asleep. They have other statistical figures that they reported in the Los Angeles Times article on how kids with have stricter parents who do not allow their phones, tablets, or any kind of mobile device in their room before bed are less likely to experience daytime sleepiness and fatigue in contrast to their in-bed user counterparts.   However, not only are the kids of today fighting the light of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and television sets, but they also have gaming devices like Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP/PS VITA) and the ever growing gaming market like any of Nintendo’s mobile gaming devices like the 3DS and Wii U as one can play the system with their own game pad without the need of a television set, as the game pad itself can display everything the console can through the television; Using the console’s other capabilities such as YouTube and other apps that one can access only makes it easier for the child to stay up and keep their mind busy with  its many stimulating lights, sounds, and content.   This problem does not seem like it is being addressed properly, even though it affects them in several aspects during vital developmental years when they actually need more and better sleep than older generations that did not have as many lights and distractions besides the typical television and its partners in crime, video game consoles. As mentioned before this problem affects everyone that is tech savvy from the very young to the old-timers that want to stay with the times. It is becoming more of a serious problem for the younger because of their need of at least 8 hours or more of sleep is not being met with so many distractions literally at their fingertips.
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