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Electronics Could Cause Insomnia for Teens

Update Date: Jan 14, 2014 11:58 AM EST

With more apps available on different modes of media, such as the Internet, smart phones and tablets, it is becoming harder and harder for children and teenagers to shut off their devices, a new study reported. According to the researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia, electronic media use could be tied to causing poor sleeping habits in teenagers.

The researchers, who are a part of the University's School of Psychology, interviewed 1,200 students from seven high schools. The students were between the ages of 12 and 18. The researchers discovered that roughly 70 percent of the students did not get enough sleep on school nights. The researchers found that instead of sleeping, the adolescents were on some form of electronic media.

"Although there are many known benefits of electronic media for young people, including opportunities for learning and socialization, previous studies have suggested that excessive electronic media use could impact negatively on sleeping patterns and the quality of sleep," stated the lead author of the study, Dr. Daniel King, according to Medical Xpress. "Lack of sleep can have significant health and mental health effects on young people, and can lead to problems with learning and concentration, poor eating habits, and a range of other behaviors that are either unhealthy or undesirable."

The researchers reported that nearly 10 percent of the children surveyed fit the criteria for pathological electronic media use. The team found that teenage boys tended to spend more time on media. Boys reported over three and a half hours of media use per day on weekdays and over four and a half hours of media use per day during the weekends. For teenage girls, they spent over three hours on weekdays and around three and three-quarter hours on weekends.

The researchers believe that children, teachers and parents need to be better educated about the effects of excessive media use. Even though media can be helpful, setting limitations for children to follow could improve sleeping patterns.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

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