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Study Finds Teens' Late Night Media Use Comes at a Price
Date:11/1/2010

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Staying up late to play video games, surf the Internet and send phone text messages may lead to learning problems, mood swings, anxiety and depression in children, a pilot study suggests.

The research, conducted at the Sleep Disorders Center at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., found that children who snuck time on their cell phones, computers and other electronic devices after supposedly going to sleep had a greater chance of sleep disorders that cause other difficulties.

"These activities are not sleep-promoting, like reading a novel or listening to music. They stimulate the brain and depress normal sleep cycles," said study author Dr. Peter G. Polos.

His team was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting in Vancouver.

The study was based on a survey of 40 boys and girls with an average age of 14. The researchers focused on their activities after they had gone into their bedroom for the night and were supposed to be sleeping.

Participants reported an average of 34 texts per night after bedtime, and an average of 3,400 night-time texts per month. These texts occurred from 10 minutes to four hours after going to bed. The average participant was awoken once a night by a text.

Girls were more "text happy," while boys were more likely to stay awake playing video games, said Polos, a physician at the hospital and a clinical instructor at its Sleep Disorders Center. All of the participants had gone to the center for help with sleep problems.

The research found correlations between late-night electronic media use and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood swings, anxiety, depression and poor cognitive functioning (thinking skills) during the day.

About half of the parents of study participants didn't know what the kids were up to, said Polos. The
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