Poor sleep patterns in toddlers linked to touchscreen use

Published: 17 April 2017

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Toddlers who use touchscreen devices daily are more likely to suffer from poor sleep patterns compared to their screen-free counterparts.

BBC News reports that a study conducted by researchers at the University of London found that every hour on a touchscreen device is linked to 15 minutes less sleep.

As part of the study 715 parents of children under three-years-old were asked how often their child played with a smartphone or tablet and about the child’s sleep patterns.

The study found a staggering 75 percent of toddlers use touchscreens every day, with 51 percent of those between six and 11 months using one, and 92 percent of those between 25 and 36 months also using the devices, BBC News reports.

However, it’s not all grim news.

Toddlers who used touchscreen devices were found to sleep less at night but more during the day.

"It isn't a massive amount when you're sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep,” Dr Tim Smith, one of the researchers, told the BBC News.

However, he noted that the study is not definitive.

Meanwhile, Dr Smith went on to explain that there was a link between touchscreen use in toddlers and acceleration in the development of their motor skills.

But he says this doesn’t mean parents should be giving their children more touchscreen time, as more research must be done first.

“It's very tricky right now, the science is very immature, we are really lagging behind the technology and it's too early to make clear proclamations,” Dr Smith said.

He says parents should still limit touchscreen time.