40% of teenagers sleep 7 hours or less, trading sleep for more time on their smartphones
08/26/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

You see them everywhere. On the bus, in restaurants, at school, and at work. Every day, more people are staying glued to the screens of their mobile phones and gadgets. But 24/7 access to technology also has negative side effects, and a whopping 40 percent of teenagers don't get enough sleep because of their devices, as reported by Science Daily.

The article revealed that because teenagers are on their phones most of the day, a lot of them don't get enough sleep at night. According to sleep experts, an adolescent must sleep for at least nine hours at night to get the rest they need. Anything less than seven hours is deemed insufficient and can be the difference between excelling at school and being an unproductive student.

Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, collaborated with psychologist Zlatan Krizan and Garrett Hisler, a graduate student. Both Krizan and Hisler are from Iowa State University in Ames. All three looked at data collated from “two long-running, nationally representative, government-funded surveys” undertaken by an estimated 360,000 teenagers.

Data from the Monitoring the Future survey asked 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in America how frequently they slept for at least seven hours each. Meanwhile, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey asked 9th to 12th-grade students the average number of hours of sleep they got every school night.

Once the data from both surveys were gathered, the three researchers confirmed that in 2015, at least 40 percent of adolescents received less than seven hours of sleep each night. The result is alarming since it is 58 percent more than 1991's results, and is 17 percent more than in 2009. (Related: Teenagers waste 40 days a year looking at mobile devices, startling research discovers.)


Upon studying the data, Twenge et al. found that the longer teenagers were online on their devices, they less sleep they got at night. At least 50 percent of adolescents who are online for at least five hours daily often don't get enough sleep, unlike teenagers who are only online for one hour. From 2009 onward, average smartphone use catapulted. Twenge shared that this could have something to do with the 17 percent increase between 2009 and 2015.

According to the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Sleep Medicine, teenagers could only be getting seven hours of sleep at night or less because the light wavelengths from smartphones and other gadgets might be interfering with our body's normal sleep-wake rhythm.

Twenge noted, “Teens' sleep began to shorten just as the majority started using smartphones...”

She continued, “It's a very suspicious pattern.” Krizan added that because gadget use took up most of a teenager's alloted sleeping time, they might end up napping in the morning at school.

To remedy this concern, Twenge advised parents to monitor their teenager's gadget use, which should be limited to only two hours daily. Adults should also pay attention this rule help them stay awake for each workday.

Tips for monitoring gadget use

If you're at a loss when it comes to monitoring your teenager's smartphone and gadget use, here are some tips from Secure Teen.

  • Determine if devices are a need or a luxury – As a parent or guardian, you decide if your child has to have the latest phone. Once you finalize where this demand falls on your priority list, you can make your choice. Monitor the mobile phone service provider package that your teenagers picks out for themselves. Since they'll be at school most of the day, having a basic phone package will do, especially if they have access to a laptop or PC at home.
  • Teach teenagers about the importance of responsible gadget use – While access to the internet on a smartphone can be liberating for adolescents, parents must teach them about the negative side-effects of spending too much time online. Let them know that they have to be responsible when it comes to their gadget and internet usage.
  • Set boundaries – Your teenager can help you stay up-to-date when it comes to technology, but you need to tell them when they can use their smartphones. Let them know that overuse can be bad not only for their academics but for their health as well.

Read more news about the proper use of technology at Computing.news.

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