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04 October 2015

Study Reveals How Gadget Screen Exposure Can Affect Puberty, Parents Advised To Limit Teens' Bedtime Screen Time

Study Reveals How Gadget Screen Exposure Can Affect Puberty, Parents Advised To Limit Teens' Bedtime Screen Time
by Rachel, parentherald.com, 28 August 2015

The light coming from gadgets like phones or tablets are disrupting the kids' bedtime, which could affect their development into puberty, a study by experts from Brown University has revealed. The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The researchers conducted a lab experiment to see how an hour of exposure to light from gadgets can affect sleep hormones in kids between the ages of 11 and 16 years old. They found out that the brighter the light the kids were exposed to, the more melatonin, which aids in sleep, were suppressed.

Experts noted that at least 38 of the participants, who were in the early to middle stages of puberty, experienced suppression of melatonin by 9.2 percent when exposed to an hour of 15 lux of light, otherwise known as "mood lighting," according to Futurity. In a room with normal lighting, or 150 lux, suppression of melatonin was at 26 percent, while light as bright as the supermarket, or 500 lux, led to the suppression of melatonin by 36.9 percent.

"Melatonin suppression pushes their body clocks to a later time, and that makes it harder to get up in the morning," said Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, according to Yahoo Parenting.

"This biological force driving younger teens to stay up later collides with the reality that they also have to get up early in the morning to go to school," adds the professor. So, as the kids do not get enough sleep because of this, it also disrupts their ability to learn.

Carskadon advises parents to be more proactive when it comes to devices used by teenagers before bedtime, particularly for the younger set who are more biologically vulnerable. If possible, parents should set strict time limits by asking their children to turn their gadgets off completely at least 30 minutes before they go to bed. They must also not be allowed to have gadgets in the room.

But then, it's not just the kids who need to have a screen time off and set some rules for unplugging. Screen addiction among parents reflect on their kids in a bad way. "A lot of kids said, 'I must just be boring to my dad because when we're together he's texting,'" said clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, according to Globe and Mail.

"We need to think about what we're modelling and the message that we're sending to our kids," said Matthew Johnson of MediaSmarts in the same report.

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