Preschoolers’ mental health impacted by sleep, screen time: studies

Preschoolers’ mental health impacted by sleep, screen time: studies
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The findings urge the development of more effective strategies to manage children's sleep health and screen time

December 21, 2023
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Researchers in China recently published a pair of studies that demonstrate links between preschoolers’ mental health to their sleep and screen time.
Sleep problems: The sleep-related study, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open last week, found an association between sleep disturbances and emotional-behavioral difficulties (EBDs) in children aged 3 to 4. Primarily, researchers observed that incident and stable sleep problems were negatively associated with resolved EBDs.
The study, which involved a two-year follow-up, included data from 17,182 children aged 3 to 4 in Shanghai. Researchers said routine screening and precise intervention may be able to help the age group.
“Sleep problems are strongly associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, inattention, hyperactivity, and emotional-behavioral difficulties in children,” Jiang Fan, a professor at the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and lead author of the study, told China News Service, as per Sixth Tone. Up to 40% of Chinese children under the age of 6 reportedly suffer from sleep problems.
Increased screen time: The other study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this month, found that children who spend more than an hour each day on their electronic devices face a significant mental health risk regardless of the content they consume. However, those who watch entertainment, non-child-directed programs face greater risks than those who watch educational programs.
The study, which was also led by Jiang Fan, included 15,965 kindergarten students aged 3 to 6 in Shanghai. The findings highlight the importance of parental guidance and control in children’s screen time and content.
Researchers recommend limiting screen time, prioritizing educational programs and avoiding non-child-directed programs. The World Health Organization says children under 2 should avoid screen exposure, while those between 2 and 5 should be limited to an hour daily.
 
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      Carl Samson

      Carl Samson
      is a Senior Editor for NextShark

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