Social Media Use, Sleep and Obesity in Children

Posted on:February 6, 2020
Last Updated: September 30, 2020
Time to read: 8 minutes

Sleep is vital to the biopsychosocial development of a child, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following amounts per 24 hours  [Paruthi et al., 2016]:

  • Infants 4-12 months:  12 – 16 hrs (including naps)
  • Children 1-2 years:  11 – 14 hours (including naps)
  • Children 3 – 5 years: 10 – 13 hours
  • Children 6 – 12 years: 9 – 12 hours
  • Teenagers 13 – 18 years:  8 – 10 hours

Sleeping the number of recommended hours is associated with better health outcomes, including improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

However, a large systematic review of the literature covering 20 countries has shown that sleep duration has been consistently declining with children losing on average 1 hour of sleep per night over the last century.  [Matricciani et al., 2012]

Read more about the neurobiology, pathophysiology, assessment and management of insomnia

This trend in reduced sleep durations is partly explained by the increase in screen time and social media activities. [Matricciani et al., 2012], [De Jong et al., 2013], [Hale and Guan, 2015]

Although screen-based media devices are reliable predictors of reduced sleep duration, up to 72% of children, have been reported to have a mobile media device (smartphones and tablets) in their sleeping environment.  [Gradisar et al., 2011]