Screen Time Before Bed Linked With Less Sleep, Higher BMIs in Kids

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Parents need screen time. It’s often the only time we can keep our kids off our backs while we try to do something that adults have to do. Like go to the washroom. Or make dinner. Or even just to have a second to ourselves. There are those favorite TV shows or movies that we put on when we need our kid to stay focused on the TV. There are some really good ones that the only time we bust them out is for this moment because we don’t want to ruin the magic of the show.

Well, hate to break it to you but science says that if we give our kids screen time, not only does the amount they get matter — but the time of day does, too.

{Also read: Let’s Stop Lying About How Much Screen Time Our Kids Get}

According to researchers, screen time can do real harm to kids if it’s done just before bed time or even worse, at bed time. So no more turning on the lulling TV show while your kid drifts off to sleep. Or no avoiding the nightly tantrum because your kid wants to fall asleep to Ryan ToysReview opening up another giant egg.

“We saw technology before bed being associated with less sleep and higher BMIs,” Caitlyn Fuller, medical student, said. “We also saw this technology use being associated with more fatigue in the morning, which circling back, is another risk factor for higher BMIs. So we’re seeing a loop pattern forming.”

Fuller wanted to dig deep into this mean research that is messing up some parent’s guilt right now because she wanted to learn what connection was there between screen time before bed and how it impacted children’s sleep and other areas of life.

And the results seem to be pretty yikes, though the research pool was pretty small.

The researchers asked parents of 234 children between the ages of 8 and 17 years old and talked about their kids’ sleep habits and technology use. The parents were the ones who provided all the information and what type of technology was used: whether it was a cell phone, video game, computer or television that was used during screen time.

And the researchers found several “adverse effects.”


“We found an association between higher BMIs and an increase in technology use, and also that children who reported more technology use at bedtime were associated with less sleep at night,” Fuller said. “These children were also more likely to be tired in the morning, which is also a risk factor for higher BMIs.”

{Also read: “Screen Time” Is The Best Babysitter I’ve Ever Had}

The type of technology mattered too. According to the results, which were published in the journal Global Pediatric Health, kids who watched TV or played video games before get got 30 minutes less sleep a night, on average than those kids who didn’t. But, kids who used a computer or a phone before bed lost an average of one hour. Kids who used all four before bed had even worse results. 

So… there you have it. Is that going to change any of your bedtime routines with your kids? Let us know in the comments.

(Image: iStock / Liderina)