Several studies over the years have demonstrated the association between lack of sleep in children and certain physical, psychological, and behavioral disorders. The aim of this study was to disentangle the association between new screen-based electronic devices and sleep problems in toddlers, adjusting for other covariates already known to be associated with sleep quality. We conducted a cross-sectional study with the aid of a national sample of 1117 toddlers. Parents reported children’s sleeping habits such as total sleep time and sleep onset latency, recreational activities, bedtime routines, and temperament. An ordered logistic regression was run to assess the associations between new media exposure and two sleep outcomes (total sleep time and sleep onset latency). Everyday use of a tablet or smartphone raised the odds of a shorter total sleep time (OR 1.95 [1.00–3.79], p < 0.05) and a longer sleep onset latency (OR 2.44 [1.26–4.73] p < 0.05) irrespective of other factors, such as temperament (restlessness, sociability), or traditional screen exposure (watching TV or playing videogames).
Conclusion: New media usage is a factor associated in toddlers with sleeping fewer hours and taking longer to fall asleep, irrespective of other confounding factors.
What is known
• Studies have found an association between sleep behavior and the use of computers and video games in early childhood.
• The blue light emitted from TV screens suppresses endogenous melatonin.
What is new
• The study found an association between daily new media (tablet and smartphone) usage and sleep quality in toddlers
• New media usage exposes toddlers to the risk of fewer hours of sleep and taking longer to fall asleep, irrespective of other factors.
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Federazione Italiana Medici Pediatri
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The authors thank all pediatricians and parents who participated in the study.
Funding for this study was provided by the Italian Federation of Pediatricians (Federazione Italiana dei Medici Pediatri), Genitori Attenti! Association for the promotion of social and health action, and by the Novella Fronda Foundation.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Communicated by Mario Bianchetti
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Chindamo, S., Buja, A., DeBattisti, E. et al. Sleep and new media usage in toddlers. Eur J Pediatr 178, 483–490 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-019-03318-7
- Touch screen device
- Video games