Addicting Use of Electronic Devices Causes Insufficient Sleep Among Teens
The prevalent use of smartphones keeps more teens awake at night, according to a study headed by American researchers.
According to the study, teens who spend more than two hours a day on their smartphones get fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. Aside from that, as time spent on smartphones increased, so did the percentage of teens getting insufficient sleep.
This key finding was first strong evidence to date that teens’ increased use of electronic devices in recent years is responsible for similar rises in insufficient sleep.
The study was spearheaded by a powerhouse of researchers composed of Zlatan Krizan, an Iowa State University associate professor of psychology; and Jean Twenge, lead author and San Diego State University professor.
The Study and Key Results
To probe the disruptive power of electronic devices on teens’ sleep patterns, the researchers conducted two national surveys with more than 360,000 teens, focusing specifically on changes in sleep and smartphone use from 2009 to 2015.
The results are quite alarming! By analyzing the data, the researchers found the following key findings:
- Relative to 2009, 17 percent more teens in 2015 reported sleeping fewer than seven hours a night
- 35 percent of teens using electronic devices for one hour a day slept fewer than seven hours
- 52 percent of teens using electronic devices for five-plus hours slept fewer than seven hours
- For comparison, those spending more than five hours were 50 percent more likely to sleep less than those spending an hour a day
Given these results, the researchers expressed concern about this alarming trend. Insufficient sleep affects one’s performance, and for the case of teens, their performance in academics is jeopardized.
Krizan said, “Our body is going to try to meet its sleep needs, which means sleep is going to interfere or shove its nose in other spheres of our lives. Teens may catch up with naps on the weekend or they may start falling asleep at school.”
Can We Reverse The Trend?
The use of technologies has become a “drug” in society especially for teens in this tech-dependent world. This trend could not be reversed totally in the snap of a finger. However, the researchers suggested the need for moderation when it comes to usage of smartphones and personal responsibility as well.
Jean Twenge, one of the study authors says, “Given the importance of sleep for physical and mental health, both teens and adults should consider whether their smartphone use is interfering with their sleep. It’s particularly important not to use screen devices right before bed, as they might interfere with falling asleep.”
Reversing the trend is not a walk in the park and will not happen overnight. One thing is certain, the use of technology has become embedded in our daily lives. However, the researchers asserted the makers of these technologies must be part of the solution.
Krizan says, “The way tech companies develop these algorithms is like making a drug. The software developers want you to make sure you never put your smartphone down. They want you to check in constantly and to like and click as many times as possible. That’s why we get alerts and notifications, all of which make it more and more difficult to put the device down.”
Reversing the trend could be next to impossible for now, but the researchers emphasized that these steps are likely to have the greatest effect.