Screen Time Prior to Bed Linked to Less Sleep, Higher BMIs in Kids

Unsurprisingly, technology use has been associated with yet another issue concerning children. A study recently published in the journal Global Pediatric Health shows a connection between screen time among children between the ages of 8 and 17, and higher BMIs (Body Mass Index).

The researchers behind the study interviewed the parents of 234 children in this age range, asking about their technology habits, sleep, activity, and nutrition. They found several problems with using devices such as cell phones, computers, tablets and video games immediately prior to bedtime. According to Caitlyn Fuller, a medical student on the project, the research “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.”

The findings, which were covered by Science Daily, seem to show a vicious cycle among children with late-night technology use — a lack of sleep, increased fatigue, and higher BMIs. Parents are reminded to set limits when it comes to technology and their children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should “designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.”

The researchers in this particular study will continue to explore whether the use of several devices prior to bedtime is worse than using just one. However, as they discovered, even children who reportedly used only one form of technology still averaged about 30 minutes less sleep than their technology-free peers. That loss of rest is enough to result in a higher BMI.