13 - 15 Months

Daytime up-close screen time disrupts nighttime sleep in toddlers

In 2020, a global study found that 13-month-olds who used touch-screen devices during the day lost, on average, one minute of nighttime sleep for each minute of use.

TV screens have long been known to disrupt sleep, and now researchers are learning that handheld devices are an even bigger issue, as they’re much closer to childrens’ faces.

How screens affect sleep and development

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no screen time at all, aside from video calls, before 18 months. Other experts recommend waiting to introduce screens for as long as possible. Here’s why: 

  • The bright blue lights emitted by electronic screens can disrupt a toddler’s circadian rhythms—often referred to as the body’s internal clock—and interfere with the release of melatonin.
  • The digital programming made for young children can activate psychological arousal, the state of being alert, active, and awake, making it harder to fall asleep.
  • Lack of sleep associated with screen exposure can cause both short- and long-term problems, including negative effects on behavior, memory, cognitive growth, and metabolism.

Learn about the research

Akacem, L. D., Wright Jr, K. P., & LeBourgeois, M. K. (2018). Sensitivity of the circadian system to evening bright light in preschool-age children. Physiological reports, 6(5), e13617.

Janssen, X., Martin, A., Hughes, A. R., Hill, C. M., Kotronoulas, G., & Hesketh, K. R. (2020). Associations of screen time, sedentary time and physical activity with sleep in under 5s: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep medicine reviews, 49, 101226.

Kahn, M., Barnett, N., Glazer, A., & Gradisar, M. (2020b). Sleep and screen exposure across the beginning of life: Deciphering the links using big-data analytics. Sleep, 44, 1–11.

Magee, C. A., Lee, J. K., & Vella, S. A. (2014). Bidirectional relationships between sleep duration and screen time in early childhood. JAMA pediatrics, 168(5), 465-470.


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Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, 16 - 18 Months, Parenting Philosophy, Sleeping, Lovevery App, Parenting, Child Development

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