Children who play games on smartphones right before hitting the sack are at increased risk of higher body mass index, warns a recent study. After surveying parents about their kids’ technology and sleep habits, Penn State College of Medicine researchers found that using technology before bed was associated with less sleep, poorer sleep quality, more fatigue in the morning and —among children who watched TV or used their cell phones before bed — higher body mass indexes (BMI).
Researcher Caitlyn Fuller said that because sleep is so critical to a child’s development, she was interested in learning more about the connection between screen time right before bed and how well those children slept, as well as how it affected other aspects of their health. The team asked the parents of 234 children, between the ages of 8 and 17 years, about their kids’ sleep and technology habits. The parents provided information about their children’s’ technology habits, sleep patterns, nutrition and activity. The researchers also asked parents to specify whether their children were using cell phones, computers, video games or television during the time.
The results suggested 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 and these children were also more likely to be tired in the morning, which is also a risk factor for higher BMIs.
Children who reported watching TV or playing video games before bed got an average of 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not, while kids who used their phone or a computer before bed averaged an hour less of sleep than those who did not. The research appears in the journal Global Pediatric Health.