The amount of sleep children get appears to have declined in the past two decades, alongside significant changes in amount and type of media they use. According to a recent research brief published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the relationship between these trends calls for more attention.
The brief points out that, although much research has been devoted to the sleep problems in children, the relationship between sleep and media has been explored in only nine published studies. It suggests that additional research is needed to identify the effects of media content, format, and timing (that is, at what point in the day it is used) on sleep.
In addition to reviewing the limited literature available on the subject, the brief explores specific ways in which media use might affect sleep. For example, viewing exciting or violent media immediately before bedtime may increase excitement, thus making it difficult for children to fall asleep; other media may have the reverse effect and actually calm children. The brief also identifies unanswered questions on the subject.