A new study was published in the Pediatrics journal, linking poor sleep patterns in children, and a lacking of physical and mental health, directly to how much TV they watched. The study shows that the more TV a child watches throughout their childhood, the less they tend to sleep. However, parents do not only need to be concerned with poor sleep patterns, but more seriously, their child’s physical and mental health.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and also from Harvard School of Publish Health conducted this study. The study analyzed the link between watching TV during the day and at bedtime, and how much sleep a child received. The study followed 1,800 children for eight years, from early infancy to mid-childhood. Parents were asked to report how much TV their child watched when they were six months old, and every year after that. Researches also wanted to know if parents provided a child with a television in their room as they got older, and much time the children spent in their rooms with a TV on.
Results from the study showed that the more television a child watched, the less they slept. Even more revealing, for every extra hour of TV a child watched, they slept about seven minutes less on average per night. The effect seemed to be more present in boys than girls. Almost 25 percent of the children studied had a TV in their room, and by the time they reached seven years old, they received half an hour less sleep per night compared to other children who did not have a TV in their room.
Parents should be concerned about how TV can affect their children sleeping less every night, as sleep deprivation is linked to poor physical and mental health. TV may lead children to sleep less because watching TV is very stimulating to the brain and it can even delay the natural sleep cycle and the desire to want to sleep. Also, watching TV that is violent creates anxiety and worry, and this might also prevent a child from wanting to sleep.
In a separate study, Dr. Jenny Radesky, from Boston Medical Center, studied fussy babies and toddlers who were more demanding on parents than other children. These children could be soothed and become easier for parents to deal with if they were put in front of the TV to be entertained. Dr. Radesky said that these fussy infants and toddlers, usually most difficult between nine months to two years old, were exposed to TV by 40 percent more than other children. Dr. Radesky warns that TV can over stimulate children and make them even fussier. It also can lead to missing out on important coping skills. Dr. Radesky recommends turning the TV off and playing or reading with the child instead of TV.
Sleep deprivation in children is linked to poor school performances, injury, depression, and even obesity. Watching too much TV creates less sleep and is linked to poor physical and mental health. Because of this, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit TV watching to only one to two hours a day.
Opinion By Sara Petersen