Television affects sleep in preschoolers – The Chart


Watching violence on TV or TV before bed can lead to sleep problems in preschoolers, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Experts have known for some time that too much time spent on TV can negatively impact our sleep, but this new research reveals that what young children watch and when they watch it can also make a difference.

The study looked at the television viewing habits and sleep problems of more than 600 preschoolers in Seattle, WA. When children watched age-appropriate television in the morning or afternoon, they had no problems sleeping, but when the shows contained violence, young people were more likely to have nightmares and to walk. tired.

Part of the problem, researchers say, is that young children watch shows aimed at older children, and preschoolers still cannot distinguish fantasy from reality.

“For a 7-10 year old, they’re really at a point where cognitively they can understand that it’s not real violence and they can see it as humor – it’s not. scary for them. Corn 3 to 5 years just aren’t there developmentally yet, ”says study author Michelle Garrison, Ph.D., of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Garrison also found that watching TV right before bed made it harder for children to fall asleep, meant more nightmares and waking up during the night, even though the shows were educational and designed specifically for young children.

“Screen time during the hour before bed can make children more aroused and they will have a harder time falling asleep,” says Garrison.

She suggests that parents turn off the television at least 60 minutes before the children go to bed.

Shows aimed at adults also come with risks, she says, and she advises parents not to watch potentially violent programs such as the evening news when children are in the room.

“Even if they think the child is not paying attention, the child absorbs it and they will see shootings and pictures of war and they really do not have the capacity to understand that it does not necessarily happen there. “Down there, there’s their neighborhood right now,” Garrison said.

Children who had televisions in their bedrooms tended to watch more than other children and to see more violent shows. When parents were asked to have a set in the bedroom, many said they thought it would help their child sleep, but that’s not what research shows.

“Sometimes parents watch their zoned child in front of the TV and think he’s really relaxed. But a lot of times when kids have that glassy, ​​zoned look they’re actually over-stimulated and not relaxed,” says Garrison.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers watch no more than two hours of television per day. High-quality programming tailored to this age group not only offers educational benefits, the Academy points out, but can also help develop social skills.

“It can help kids learn to cooperate problem-solving, negotiate things, learn empathy,” says Garrison.

Experts offer these tips to help parents with their children’s viewing habits. First, take the TV out of the bedroom and watch TV with your child whenever you can.

“And look at what you’re looking at; in other words, is it something that you think is appropriate for your child. You may want to watch the program first to see if your child can watch it or if it’s too intense. And finally, don’t be afraid to turn off the television, ”says pediatrician Don Shifrin, former chair of the communications committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Another good source for families is Common sense media, according to Garrison. This website offers reviews of TV shows and movies, examining levels of violence, frightening content, and educational value.

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