Screen time has become an integral part of children’s lives, but it may negatively impact their sleep and mental health. Dr. Maida Chen, a pediatrics professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, highlights the circular relationship between sleep and mental health, which screens can exacerbate.
According to Dr. Chen, screens can worsen sleep problems and trigger the development of mental health issues. This connection works both ways, as underlying mental health issues can also be worsened by excessive screen time. Additionally, the content on screens, especially on social media platforms, can be activating and trigger anxiety, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Mental health concerns among young people are significant, with studies reporting that 42% of high school students experienced persistent sadness or hopelessness in 2021. Dr. Chen attributes the heightened mental health challenges and sleep difficulties faced by young people to increased social isolation during the pandemic, exacerbated by the role of social media.
Dr. Chen emphasizes that adults need to model the behavior they expect from their children. It is inconsistent to criticize teenagers for their phone and social media use while engaging in the same behavior. Parents should take an active role in promoting healthier screen habits.
To address this issue, Dr. Chen suggests that families gradually introduce screen-free time about 30 minutes before bed. During this time, families can engage in activities together, fostering communication and connection. If media consumption is necessary, Dr. Chen advises families to watch something together, promoting shared experiences.
In conclusion, it is crucial for parents to recognize the impact of screen time on their children’s sleep and mental health. By setting boundaries and promoting healthy habits, parents can help their children thrive in the digital age.
– Dr. Maida Chen, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
– Study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).