Children who have a habit of using and playing with tech gadgets such as a smartphone before going to bed, may face an increased risk of becoming obese, warns a study.
The report published in the journal Global Pediatric Health, revealed that children who used digital devices such as watching TV or playing games on a smartphone before going to bed got an average of 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not.
This lack of proper sleep not only caused fatigue and attention problems in school, but also disrupted their eating habits. This leads to higher body mass indexes (BMI), the study further revealed.
“We saw technology before bed being associated with less sleep and higher BMIs,” said Caitlyn Fuller, researcher at the Pennsylvania State University in the US. “We also saw technology use being associated with more fatigue in the morning, which circling back, is another risk factor for higher BMIs. So we’re seeing a loop pattern forming,”
The study, published in the journal Global Pediatric Health, examined the sleep and technology habits of 234 children, aged between eight to 17 years.
Researchers also found an association between using all four types of technology before bed and increased cell phone use at night, such as waking up to text someone, with watching TV resulting in the highest odds.
Previous research has found associations between more technology use and less sleep, more inattention, and higher BMIs in adolescents. But even though research shows that 40 percent of children have cell phones by fifth grade, the researchers said not as much was known about the effects of technology on a younger population.
The research showed that children who have a habit of watching TV or playing video games before going to bed got an average of 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not, while kids who used their phone or a computer before bed averaged an hour less of sleep than those who did not.
Over 36 percent of children in the UAE are obese, according to the World Health Organisation. Being number one in global smartphone penetration, the study raises serious concerns for UAE children. Health experts are claiming the posh lifestyle in the country is triggering a rise in childhood obesity. However, awareness on childhood obesity is increasing in the UAE, thanks to the ongoing governmental initiatives, which is seeing positive reactions from parents, according to experts.
Experts recommend that parents should create limitation with regards to the technology use of their children. This can be in a form of requiring their children to put away their devices during meal times and keeping phones out of bedrooms at night.