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Research Examines Link Between Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems

Pediatricians have long stressed the important role that sleep plays in ensuring children’s physical and mental well-being, with inadequate sleep linked to everything from obesity to aggression to hyperactivity in children. However, research shows that most children and adolescents do not get enough high-quality sleep, and that their sleep times appear to have declined over the last two decades. Coinciding with this trend has been the rise in popularity of new media forms including the Internet, video games, cell phones and DVDs. Because of the immediacy and interactivity of these new technologies, young people are using media at times and in ways that might interfere with sleep quantity and quality. To help inform this health issue, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new research brief that examines different aspects of how media use may impact sleep. The brief reviews and summarizes the limited body of research on this topic, including studies on whether media use directly displaces sleep, and how media content can have either an exciting or calming effect on children.The brief also highlights key unanswered questions that emerge from the prior studies on children’s media use and sleep. For instance, little is known about the effects of using media as a sleep-aid for children. There is also a lack of information about whether new forms of media affect sleep differently from traditional forms. Finally, many questions remain about the potential long-term effects of media use on sleep and whether children’s media habits are reversible.The research brief is available online at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/7674.cfm . For more information, please contact Rob Graham at [email protected] or (650) 854-9400.

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