A recent Oxford University study has found that screen time doesn’t have as much of an impact on a child’s sleep as previously thought.

Despite evidence that 50 – 90% of school-age children don’t get enough sleep, a survey of around 50,000 American children found that screen time makes little practical impact.

According to author Professor Andrew Przybylski: “The findings suggest that the relationship between sleep and screen use in children is extremely modest.”

“Every hour of screen time was related to 3 to 8 fewer minutes of sleep a night.”

While there is a correlation between screen time and sleep, it might be too small to make a difference to a child’s sleep.

According to Przybylski, it suggests that we need to look at other ways to help our children sleep better.

“Focusing on bedtime routines and regular patterns of sleep, such as consistent wake-up times, are much more effective strategies for helping young people sleep than thinking screens themselves play a significant role,” he said.

High levels of screen time linked to lower well-being

However, another recent study on screen time and kids has given us more pause. It found that more hours of screen time are associated with lower well-being in those aged 2 to 17.

The study found the negative effects were more obvious for adolescents than younger children. However it did find that among pre-schoolers, high users of screens were twice as likely to often lose their temper and 46 percent more likely to not be able to calm down when excited.

According to the study, published in Preventative Medicine Reports, children who watched more than one hour a day had “lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.”

Alarmingly, 14- to 17-year-olds, high users of screens (7 hours a day vs lower users of 1 hour a day) were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, treated by a mental health professional or have taken medication for a psychological or behavioural issue in the last 12 months.

What does this mean for us parents?

There are so many studies out there on screen time and it can certainly be overwhelming when you delve into the research. However, these two studies highlight some of Birde’s key values.

We believe there’s a place for technology, but kids shouldn’t be consumed by it. Technology shouldn’t be blamed for all potential problems, however we should be mindful of how much our kids are consuming and whether there are better alternatives.

Most importantly, when we give our kids access to technology, we should be confident that what they’re seeing and listening to is appropriate for them. We should know that the technology and video content is safe, age-appropriate and educational.

What is the official advice?

In November 2017, the Australian Department of Health released their guidelines which included some screen time advice .For children under 5, their screen time recommendations include:

  • Children under 18 months to avoid the use of screen media other than video-chatting
  • Parents of children 18-24 months who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and watch it with them
  • Children age 2-5 should have screen use limited to 1 hour a day of high-quality programs.

How do I find out more about Birde?

Birde is a brand new, world first media player designed for kids. All the video, music and audiobook content on our platform has been chosen by us. We find content that is both educational and heaps of fun. You choose what you want your child to listen to or watch, so you know that it’s safe and appropriate for them. One less thing to worry about! Find out more on our website.