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Content, Timing of TV Can Take Toll on Kids' Sleep
Date:6/27/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep problems common to the toddler set are made worse both by violent media content and greater evening use of televisions, computers or video games, a new study suggests.

Reviewing parent surveys and media diaries from 617 preschoolers, Seattle researchers found that each additional hour of evening media use was linked to a significant jump in sleep problems, as was viewing of violent content at any time during the day.

On average, the kids consumed nearly 73 minutes of screen time daily, with 14 minutes occurring after 7 p.m. Children with TVs in their bedrooms logged more screen time and were more likely to have trouble sleeping.

"We definitely thought there would be an effect from violent content and evening content, but we saw that any evening content was a problem -- it didn't really matter for sleep if it was violent," said study author Michelle M. Garrison, a research scientist at Seattle Children's Research Institute. "Also, we had been assuming a lot of them were watching programs really intended for adults and teens, but the bulk of it was children's programs aimed at ages 7 to 12."

The study is published online June 27 and in the July print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

About 21 percent of pre-school children deal with at least two sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, repeated night waking or daytime tiredness, according to the study authors. Prior research indicates that between 20 percent and 43 percent of American preschoolers also have televisions in their bedroom.

This study used media diaries that recorded all screen time for the children -- 55 percent of whom were boys and 18 percent from low-income families -- across one week, noting the screen title of TV, video game or computer usage and later coding it for ratings, content and pacing.

Researchers also
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