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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Do computer use, TV viewing, and the presence of the media in the bedroom predict school-aged children’s sleep habits in a longitudinal study?

Teija Nuutinen12*, Carola Ray12 and Eva Roos12

Author affiliations

1 Folkhälsan Research Center, Paasikivenkatu 4, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

2 Department of Public Health, Hjelt institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:684  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-684

Published: 26 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Electronic media use is becoming an increasingly important part of life for today’s school-aged children. At the same time, concern of children’s sleep habits has arisen, and cross-sectional studies have shown that electronic media use is associated with short sleep duration and sleep disturbances. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to investigate whether baseline electronic media use and media presence in a child’s bedroom predicted sleep habits as well as changes in these sleep habits 18 months later among 10- to 11-year-old children in Finland.

Methods

The school-aged children (n=353, 51% girls) from 27 schools answered a questionnaire in 2006 and again 2008 in the Helsinki region of Finland. Electronic media use was measured by computer use and TV viewing. Media presence in a child’s bedroom means the presence of a TV or a computer in a child’s bedroom. Sleep habits were measured by bedtimes on school days and at the weekend days, sleep duration, discrepancy of bedtimes, and discrepancy of sleep duration between school days and weekends. Linear regression analyses were used to examine whether electronic media use and media presence predicted sleep habits with adjustments for grade, family structure, and baseline sleep. Gender differences were also examined.

Results

The children used a computer for one hour per day and watched TV over one hour a day in 2006. They slept over nine hours on school days and over ten hours at the weekends in 2008. Computer use and television viewing predicted significantly shorter sleep duration (p<0.001, p<0.05 respectively) and later bedtimes (p<0.001, p<0.01, respectively). Computer use also predicted unfavourable changes in sleep duration (p<0.001) and bedtimes on school days (p<0.001) and weekends (p<0.01). Among boys, media presence in the bedroom predicted poorer sleep habits and irregularity of sleep habits.

Conclusions

Computer use, TV viewing, and the presence of media in children’s bedrooms may reduce sleep duration, and delay bedtimes.

Keywords:
Child; Sleep; Television viewing; Computer use; Longitudinal