Sleep medicine reviews | 7 Sep 2014
L Hale and S Guan
We systematically examined and updated the scientific literature on the association between screen time (e.g., television, computers, video games, and mobile devices) and sleep outcomes among school-aged children and adolescents. We reviewed 67 studies published from 1999 to early 2014. We found that screen time is adversely associated with sleep outcomes (primarily shortened duration and delayed timing) in 90% of studies. Some of the results varied by type of screen exposure, age of participant, gender, and day of the week. While the evidence regarding the association between screen time and sleep is consistent, we discuss limitations of the current studies: 1) causal association not confirmed; 2) measurement error (of both screen time exposure and sleep measures); 3) limited data on simultaneous use of multiple screens, characteristics and content of screens used. Youth should be advised to limit or reduce screen time exposure, especially before or during bedtime hours to minimize any harmful effects of screen time on sleep and well-being. Future research should better account for the methodological limitations of the extant studies, and seek to better understand the magnitude and mechanisms of the association. These steps will help the development and implementation of policies or interventions related to screen time among youth.
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