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Computer use, sleep duration and health symptoms: a cross-sectional study of 15-year olds in three countries

Abstract

Objectives

This study investigated whether computer use is associated with health symptoms through sleep duration among 15-year olds in Finland, France and Denmark.

Methods

We used data from the WHO cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study collected in Finland, France and Denmark in 2010, including data on 5,402 adolescents (mean age 15.61 (SD 0.37), girls 53 %). Symptoms assessed included feeling low, irritability/bad temper, nervousness, headache, stomachache, backache, and feeling dizzy. We used structural equation modeling to explore the mediating effect of sleep duration on the association between computer use and symptom load.

Results

Adolescents slept approximately 8 h a night and computer use was approximately 2 h a day. Computer use was associated with shorter sleep duration and higher symptom load. Sleep duration partly mediated the association between computer use and symptom load, but the indirect effects of sleep duration were quite modest in all countries.

Conclusions

Sleep duration may be a potential underlying mechanism behind the association between computer use and health symptoms.

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Acknowledgments

This study is based on the WHO supported Health Behaviour among School-aged Children Study (HBSC). We thank the International Coordinator of the 2009/2010 study, Candace Currie, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Data Bank Manager, Oddrun Samdal, University of Bergen, Norway. In addition, we also thank the Juho Vainio Foundation for funding this study.

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Correspondence to Teija Nuutinen.

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Nuutinen, T., Roos, E., Ray, C. et al. Computer use, sleep duration and health symptoms: a cross-sectional study of 15-year olds in three countries. Int J Public Health 59, 619–628 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-014-0561-y

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Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Computer use
  • Sleep duration
  • Symptoms
  • Survey