Screens at night bad for sleep


Mon­i­tor­ing screen-time is a mod­ern par­ents’ night­mare.

Any­one who has tried to get griz­zly, over­tired kids ready for school, or whose teenager throws back cof­fees be­fore class knows that some young peo­ple don’t get enough sleep.

While putting your phone or lap­top away ear­lier might sound like com­mon sense, school kids are stay­ing up late do­ing home­work - or on so­cial me­dia - un­til the small hours.

A re­cent in­ter­na­tional study found that one in six Kiwi 15-year-olds spends more than six hours a day on­line. The Pro­gramme of In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Assess­ment (PISA) tested 540,000 15-yearolds on their ed­u­ca­tion per­for­mance, in­clud­ing 4453 in New Zealand.

PISA’s stu­dent well­be­ing report from 2015, pub­lished on Thurs­day, showed that Kiwi 15-yearolds were classed as ‘ex­treme’ in­ter­net users. Kiwi teens re­ported be­ing on­line for an av­er­age of 163 min­utes, out­side school hours, each week­day, up from 98 min­utes in 2012.

The PISA study stated that ex­treme in­ter­net use - more than six hours per day - had a neg­a­tive re­la­tion­ship with stu­dents’ life sat­is­fac­tion and en­gage­ment at school.

Screens are not just de­lay­ing bed times - one in four ‘ex­treme’ in­ter­net users re­ported be­ing late for school in the two weeks prior to the sur­vey.

A 2016 ASG and Monash Univer­sity sur­vey of 800 New Zealand par­ents found that 55 per cent felt their chil­dren spent too much time in front of a screen, and 48 per cent strug­gled to limit their child’s use of dig­i­tal de­vices.

Pub­lished data on sleep in New Zealand is lim­ited but grow­ing, PhD stu­dent at Massey Univer­sity’s Sleep/Wake Cen­tre, Dee Muller said.

Sleep stud­ies in­di­cate chil­dren with screens in their bed­rooms went to bed later, slept less on school nights, and had higher scores of sleep dis­tur­bance, she said.

Muller said the rise of screen-based me­dia and por­ta­ble de­vice use - par­tic­u­larly in bed - poses a chal­lenge for young peo­ple to get suf­fi­cient, good qual­ity, con­sis­tent sleep. Her ad­vice to par­ents? ‘‘Con­sider lim­it­ing the ac­ces­si­bil­ity and use of tech­nol­ogy par­tic­u­larly at night time.’’

A well­be­ing report shows Kiwi 15-year-olds were ‘ex­treme’ in­ter­net users.

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