Toddlers who spend time playing on touchscreen tablets and phones get less sleep than those who don’t, according to a new research.


The study in Scientific Reports suggests every hour spent using a touchscreen each day is linked to fifteen minutes less sleep at night.


However there was one positive finding associated with touchscreens, tots playing with touchscreens tended to develop their fine motor skills more quickly.


The study by Birkbeck, University of London, questioned 715 parents of children under three years old. Parents answered questions on how often their child played with a smartphone or tablet and about their child’s sleeping patterns.


A whopping 75 per cent of the toddlers in the study used a touchscreen on a daily basis, with 51 per cent of those between six and 11 months using one, and 92 per cent of older tots aged between 25 and 36 months using one.



One interesting finding was that children who played with with touchscreens slept less at night and more during the day.Overall these toddlers got about 15 minutes less sleep for every hour of touchscreen use.


Researcher Dr. Tim Smith told the BBC News website: "It isn't a massive amount when you're sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep."


He said the study "seems to indicate touchscreens have some association with possible sleep problems.”


But swiping on touchscreens did help toddlers develop their fine motor skills, which are crucial for daily living.



As research into touchscreen use during childhood is limited, it’s hard to conclude what impact this lack of sleep could have on toddlers long term.


Dr. Smith urges parents to set the same rules for touchscreen use as for TV use.


This includes limiting the time spent on devices, ensuring children play physical games and get exercise outdoors, only playing with age-appropriate apps or games and avoiding all screens in the hour before bedtime.


Dr Anna Joyce, a cognitive developmental researcher at Coventry University, said: "As the first study to investigate associations between sleep and touchscreen use in infancy, this is a timely piece of research.


"In light of these findings and what we know from previous research it may be worth parents limiting touchscreen, other media use and blue light in the hours before bedtime."


What do you think mums? Let us know your thoughts on touchscreen use.