Media screens' 'detrimental effect' on children's sleep

Young child playing with a tablet computer Image copyright SPL

The use of smart phones and tablets at bedtime has a "detrimental effect" on children's sleep, a study has found.

Research at Cardiff University found 72% of children have at least one portable media device in their sleep environment.

Such devices are said to impact on the duration and quality of sleep, which can lead to health problems.

Dr Ben Carter from the university's School of Medicine said sleep was important for development.

He said their study was the first to consolidate results across existing research and provides "further proof of the detrimental effect" media devices can have on children's sleep.

"Sleep is often an undervalued but important part of children's development," he said, "with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems".

These include obesity, sedative behaviour, stunted growth, reduced immunity and mental health issues.

Dr Carter warned the problem was only going to get worse with the ever growing popularity of media devices.

He said an "integrated approach" was needed to improve sleep habits, involving parents, teachers and healthcare professionals.

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