Texting before sleep can raise the risk of mental health problems in kids

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These days it is not unusual for a child to have their own mobile phone, a gaming console, computer or laptop, or a whole number of electronic gadgets, even very young children are now so familiar with electronic gadgetry they accept it as part of normal life. However, the result of a new study from the US sends a stark warning to parents.

Children who send text messages or spend time on the computer or other electronic device just before going to sleep are at a higher risk of suffering from psychological problems. This can manifest as disturbed and poor quality sleep, bad moods and difficulties with learning as well as symptoms of ADHD, depression and anxiety.

The study was carried out by scientists at JFK Medical Centre in Edison, New Jersey, USA and involved 40 youngsters with an average age of just over 14 years. Each of the youngsters’ night time habits was observed for a period of around 8 months from September last year to May 2010.

The research revealed that on average, the kids sent around 33 text messages or emails a night to 3.7 people, which means that over 3,400 text messages are being sent per person every month. The most common time for this to take place was between 10 minutes and 4 hours after going to bed.

There were some gender differences relating to the type of electronic indulgence involved with girls preferring to text or talk and boys preferring to surf the internet or play online games.

Nearly 77 percent of the kids involved in the study suffered from persistent sleep problems in that they took much longer to get to sleep which ultimately led to problems the next day.

The result was “irritability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood swings, anxiety, depression and poor cognitive functioning (thinking skills)” said the researchers.

“These activities are not sleep-promoting, like reading a novel or listening to music” said Dr. Peter G. Polos the study author for this research, “They stimulate the brain and depress normal sleep cycles”.

As a result the researchers are calling for parents to monitor their child’s activity at bedtime and limit their use of electronic gadgets at this time.

The findings of the JFK study were published as an abstract and will later be presented at a conference.

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3 Comments

  1. kevin blumer
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    intresting article because of something i heard in the news a while ago that more than 10 minutes on the internet can cause deppresion dosnt affect me like im on the internet all the time mind i do think to mutch time for anyone in frount of a computer will effect your mental health

  2. Fay grove 14
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    This articale makes sence but once into the routeen of txting befoure txting how do you stop?

  3. Krissy
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m 16, so more or less I am a kid.
    This makes sense I though, I have piles of homework to do right now and instead I’m on the computer.
    I spend everyday on social networking sites, I think it’s because it’s addictive, we spend all time on them.
    I can’t see how texting before going to bed links in though.

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