A recent study has concluded that toddlers whose time is mainly spent on smartphones have a hard time sleeping compared to those who do not.
The study published in Scientific Reports further elaborates that each day spent on the touchscreen is equivalent to 15 minutes less sleep.
But the smartphone toddlers have sharper motor skills compared to their counterparts.
Experts have applauded the study, terming timely and added that parents need not be too worried about it.
Smartphone Toddlers Dominate Homes
Recent times have witnessed an explosion of touchscreens in our homes but very little information has been provided regarding how they impact childhood development.
To conduct this study, the University of London asked questions to 715 parents regarding their children who were below 3 years old.
The questions concentrated on the frequency the children played with their smartphones and then looked into their sleep patterns.
The results were astounding, with about 75 percent of toddlers found to use the touchscreens on a daily basis. Those aged 6 months to 11 months were found a 51 percent usage while 92 percent of those aged 25 to 36 months were frequent users.
Of these tech-oriented children, daytime seemed to be their preferred sleep time while they lost some night sleep time.
In general, each usage of the smartphone was found to cost them 15 minutes of sleep at night.
“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,” said Dr Tim Smith who participated in the study.
The study may not be definitive, but according to Dr Smith, it shows that sleep problems are somewhat associated with the touchscreens.
On the flip side, the study has also shown that smartphone toddlers develop their motor skills at a faster pace.
That begs the question whether or whether not children need to be allowed to play with smartphones.
A tricky question to answer
The currently available information makes it quite tricky to provide a straight answer to such a question.
What parents can best do is to implement the TV watching rules on the smartphones.
How much time do you permit them to spend on the devices and whether the content they encounter is age appropriate. In addition, do the children get time to do physical things and keep off any screens some few hours to sleep?
In general, experts have always discouraged the use of smartphones for a number of reasons. Some of them include the fear that the gadgets can interfere with the child/parent relationship and bring up a ‘zombie’ generation.
Furthermore, just like the TV, it’s feared that smartphones affect their ability to learn, in addition to sparking tantrums.
The study has been hailed but this is should not be a cause of panic. Prof Kevin McConway, from The Open University makes it clear even if he had children, he “wouldn’t lose any sleep over the results”.