Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 04:13 pm

It may be tempting to let the kids watch TV or play on their smartphones after dinner, but screen time before bed has a few downsides…

Penn State College of Medicine researchers surveyed parents about their kids’ technology and sleep habits.

They found that using technology before bed was associated with less sleep, poorer sleep quality, more fatigue in the morning and – in the children that watched TV or used their cell phones before bed – higher body mass indexes (BMI).

“We saw technology before bed being associated with less sleep and higher BMIs,” says Caitlyn Fuller, a medical student, “We also saw this technology use being associated with more fatigue in the morning, which circling back, is another risk factor for higher BMIs. So we’re seeing a loop pattern forming.”

Sleep is critical to a child’s development

Previous research has found associations between more technology use and less sleep, more inattention, and higher BMIs in adolescents.

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Fuller said that, because sleep is so critical to a child’s development, she was interested in learning more about the connection between screen time right before bed and how well those children slept, as well as how it affected other aspects of their health.

Related: Are your kids addicted to screen time?

Over 200 children studied

The researchers asked the parents of 234 children between the ages of 8 and 17 years about their kids’ sleep and technology habits.

The parents provided information about their children’s technology habits, sleep patterns, nutrition and activity. The researchers also asked the parents to further specify whether their children were using cell phones, computers, video games or television during their technology time.

After analysing the data, the researchers found several adverse effects associated with using different technologies right before bed.

Less sleep and higher BMI

“We found an association between higher BMIs and an increase in technology use, and also that children who reported more technology use at bedtime were associated with less sleep at night,” says Fuller. “These children were also more likely to be tired in the morning, which is also a risk factor for higher BMIs.”

Children who reported watching TV or playing video games before bed had an average of 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not, while kids who used their phone or a computer before bed averaged an hour less of sleep than those who did not.

There was also an association between using all four types of technology before bed and increased cell phone use at night, such as waking up to text someone, with watching TV resulting in the highest odds.

Related: How screen time affects children’s sleep

Source: Penn State via

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