Letting your children bask in the glow of a television or computer in their bedrooms at night doesn’t benefit their sleep or waistlines. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada say that electronic devices in kids’ bedrooms are linked with both poor sleep and obesity.
Researchers used data from nearly 3,400 students in fifth grade (10-11 years old) in a survey of their nighttime sleep habits and access to electronic devices. Half of the children had a television, DVD player, or video game console in the bedroom, 21 percent had a computer, and 17 percent had a mobile phone.
Fifty-seven percent of students reported using their phones, watching television, or playing video games after they were supposed to be asleep. Researchers found that students with access to one electronic device were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight than kids with no devices in the bedroom. That increased to 2.57 times for kids with three devices. Additionally, they found that as little as one hour of additional sleep each night decreased the odds of being overweight by 28 percent and obese by 30 percent.
“If you want your kids to sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle, get the technology out of the bedroom,” says co-author Paul Veugelers, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, in a statement on Monday.
Co-author Christina Fung adds that children today are not sleeping as much as previous generations, with two-thirds not getting the recommended hours of sleep per night. A good night’s sleep has been linked with better academics, fewer mood disorders, and healthier lifestyle habits.
The research was published online in the journal Pediatric Obesity.
Prior research has found that kids with TVs in their rooms watched more TV and were more likely to have sleep problems; also, the more television children watched, and the more violence they were exposed to on television, the more problems they had sleeping. That study was published last June in the journal Pediatrics.