Video games and TV does not help with bedtime routines

Exposing young children to TV and video games before bedtime can result in sleep problems.

The detrimental effects of exposing children to playing video games and watching too much television has been brought to the attention of parents once again, as (maybe obviously) according to a recent study in the US, watching television or playing video games does not help with bedtime routines.

The study was conducted by Seattle-based researchers and wrote in the health journal ‘Pedriatics’, and involved 612 children from ages 3 – 5, whose parents were asked to keep a journal of their child’s television watching and video playing habits for one week.

The parents had to log down the title of the television programme, duration of the show, as well as the time it was broadcast. Likewise they had to keep a note of the title of the video game, the time of day it was played and for how long the child played it for.

The study revealed that 28% of the children who were engaged in these forms of media for at least 30 minutes after 7pm, had various problems associated with sleep, including having trouble falling asleep, having nightmares and being tired during the day.

Talking about the findings of the study, Dr Michelle Garrison, the lead researcher from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said that computer monitors and television screens “can keep melatonin levels from rising normally because of the brightness of the screen.”

This rise in melatonin levels can disturb the hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle, the researchers went on to write in their report.

The content of the video games and television programmes watched by the pre-schoolers were also analysed and the study revealed 37% of children who were exposed to violent material for an hour or more each day experienced some degree of sleep problems.

To help your child get a decent night’s sleep, a regular bedtime routine, such as going to bed at the same time each night and reading a story, is advised.