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Sleep Deprivation and Electronics in Bedrooms

There is increasing evidence that televisions and electronic items located within children’s bedrooms are detrimental to the health and welfare of children and adolescents. In a recent Canadian study, researchers found that half of the 3,400 grade five students who were interviewed had a television, DVD player or video game console in their bedroom and that 60 per cent of these children used the devices after they were supposed to be asleep. The research also found a link between electronic devices in rooms and weight status of children. Children with one electronic device in their room were 1.5 times as likely to be overweight as children with no devices. The more electronic items a child had in their bedroom, the greater their likelihood of being overweight.  

In recent research conducted as part of my PhD, I surveyed 71 South Australian young people aged between 13 and 17, who were at risk of disengaging from the public school system. I found that 79% of the young people reported coming to school feeling “really tired”, and that 60% of these young people considered tiredness to represent a problem within their life.

In the age of electronics, tiredness and sleep deprivation is an issue in which parents, teachers, schools and society cannot ignore. Tiredness and sleep deprivation impact on a young person’s capacity to regulate their body systems, emotions and behaviour. They impact on cognitive function, making it difficult for young people to attend and concentrate. These effects, combined with the effects of over participation in the potentially isolating, sedentary and passive virtual world activities generally associated with electronic devices can have a devastating impact on a young person’s capacity to engage and succeed across the multiple domains of their lives. Whilst electronic devices are part of our current and future reality, this evidence highlights the need to ensure that children and young people are supported by their caregivers/families to manage their use and attain or maintain a good balance with activities that are both active and based in the real world.

For additional information on sleep deprivation, click here.