Does Bedtime Media Use Harm Children’s Sleep? Only if They Struggle to Self-Regulate Behavior

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one concern for many parents has been the impact of additional TV or computer screen time on their children and their already disrupted sleep habits.

According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, media use in the hour preceding bedtime impacts the sleep only of children who struggle to self-regulate their behavior. Frequent media use before bed in these children predicted later bedtimes and less sleep, but it had little impact on children who do well at self-regulating their behavior.

“Among kids who used the same amount of media in the hour before bed, we found differences that were explained by a personality characteristic called effortful control,” said Leah Doane, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University (ASU) and senior author on the article. “Kids who score low on measures of effortful control are the ones who struggle to wait to unwrap a present or are easily distracted. We found a strong association between media use in the hour before bed and when these kids went to sleep and how long they slept. Media use before bed was not associated with the sleep of kids who scored high on measures of effortful control.”

Full article at Association For Psychological Science

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