Only one in every ten teenagers gets enough sleep. In our 24-7 society, social media affects every aspect of our lives, including the number of hours we spend sleeping. Teenagers are much more affected, because texting, gaming, and TV watching are more intrinsic parts of their lives than is the case with adults. But, not all media-related activities produce the same effects.
The results of the study conducted by Dr. Caris Fitzgerald, a resident physician in psychiatry at the University of Arkansas, show that computer use, particularly internet browsing, and playing computer games, are much more likely to prevent teenagers from getting the recommended nine hours of sleep, than is TV watching (Medscape News). Dr Fitzgerrald explains that the gaming and computer use affect heart rate variability, level of stress and blood pressure, because they are stimulating and engaging. TV watching, on the other hand, being basically passive, in fact increases the number of hours of sleep among the teenagers who were part of the study. Perhaps poor quality TV shows might have an upside to them after all!
The difference in how various types of media affect the number of hours of sleep teenagers get was not the intended part of the study design. The study also did not determine whether the active media forms like internet browsing or texting make teenagers stay awake longer, or some of them already have changed sleep pattern, which leads them to spending more time being engaged in the activities they love.
Whether the results of Dr. Fitzgerald’s study are intentional or not, they are nevertheless useful to the parents of teenagers, who have to find a way to help their kids stay healthy. The study also confirmed what most people already know: that regular physical exercise increases the quality and the length of sleep. So, all parents have to do now is kick their teenagers out of the house and onto the playgrounds and hiking trails. Much easier said than done.
Recall this article from way back in 2006; the concerns back then are the same as for today, except today Wi-Fi is everywhere. While Wi-Fi usage is necessary for teenagers to surf the internet using their mobile devices, but is it contributing to the sleeplessness problem amongst teenagers? And as I’ve noted before, there is mounting evidence that EMF radiation contributes towards insomnia and other health problems.
There in no doubt that insufficient sleep has dangerous effects on young people. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blames sleeplessness for more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year, about half of them being caused by teenagers.
Teachers complain than the majority of teenagers are ‘walking zombies’, drowsy, tired, and unfocused. The lack of concentration and irritability cause poor school performance and disciplinary problems. Since poor grades cascade into a bigger problem of inability to enter desired university or get a chosen job, the problem of teenagers’ lack of sleep requires a more serious and concerted approach, primarily by parents.