Many teenagers have poor sleep hygiene, and this can increase their risks of being involved in drowsy driving-related car accidents. A new study shows that poor sleep quality in teenagers can occur because of their addiction to texting and video games.
It is no secret that teenagers are addicted to their smartphones, but it is specific types of smartphone usage that may be especially detrimental to teenagers and their sleep patterns. Researchers at Penn State analyzed smartphone behavior by teenagers and its impact on their sleep patterns. They found all smartphone usage was not the same as far as impact on sleep hygiene goes. The study found that interactive activities like texting or playing video games have the most detrimental effect on a teenager’s sleep quality.
Interestingly enough, these activities do not even have to take place close to the teenager’s sleep time for it to affect his sleep duration or time. Even daytime activities like playing video games can impact sleep quality and duration. For every one hour more than usual that a teen played a video game, his usual bedtime was delayed by 10 minutes.
The researchers focused on 475 adolescents who were surveyed about their use of texting, instant messaging and emailing as well as their video gaming. They found that teenagers, on an average, spend about two hours a day on instant messaging, emailing and texting, while they spend approximately 1.3 hours a day on video gaming. Teens also spend approximately 1.7 hours a day consuming passive entertainment like watching TV. Passive entertainment was found to be not as detrimental to sleep hygiene as interactive use of smartphones. Also, these activities became even more detrimental the closer they occurred to the teenager’s sleep time. For example, if a teenager played a video game close to bedtime, it delayed sleep time by as much as 30 minutes.
Experts recommend that teenagers get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Teens who do not get the required amount of sleep may be driving to school in a drowsy state, increasing their risks of being involved in drowsy driving- related car accidents. Driving due to early school times and late night job shifts has been explored as a cause of drowsy driving by teen motorists, but experts also believe that it is important for parents to understand the effect that interactive screen time can have on teen sleep quality and their car accident risks.
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