Babies and TV at Bedtime

With smaller and cheaper TVs, phones, and computers becoming more prevalent, more parents are using them to keep their little ones occupied. Unfortunately, more parents are using TVs as a part of children’s bedtime routines, and this has researchers worried. Good sleep is important for anyone’s health, but it is especially important for a child’s health and development, and previous research has showed screen time before bed has a negative impact on sleep.  The researchers decided to look into the impacts of TV usage before bedtime on children between the ages of 18-24 months.

403 low-income families from New York City and Pittsburg were surveyed, the majority of which were from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. The families were asked how often the children watched TV before bed, how many hours of sleep did the child get and how well did the child sleep. About 6 months later, when their children were 24 months old, they were asked to fill out two subscales of the Child Behavior Checklist to asses the child’s attention and aggressiveness.

The results from the survey showed 52% of families incorporated TVs into their child’s bedtime routine. Those who incorporated TVs in to the bedtime routine had children who slept less, had sleeping problems, were more aggressive and had more attention problems at 24 months. The researchers also conducted mediation analyses which found that sleep problems mediated a relationship between TVs during the bedtime routine and attention and aggression problems later on.  This seems to indicated that lower sleep quality may be responsible for behavioral issues.

One limitation outlined by the researcher was the behavior and sleep problems are reported by parents, which may not be accurate. Another limitation is the study isn’t causal. The final limitation, although intentional, was the sample was not representative of the population.


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