More Contradictions in the Adolescent Sleep/Technology Debate

A month ago, I described an impressively large study (17,000+ adolescents) looking at the effects of technology on adolescent sleep and well being.

As I summed it up in the title of that post: “Surprise! Screen time (even before bed) doesn’t harm adolescents.”

Today, I’m linking to another large study (6600+ adolescents) showing … just the opposite.

The main findings for this study was that late-night technology use — especially once the room lights were off — predicted a lower “health-related quality of life” for adolescents.

At this point, I’m frankly flummoxed. I just don’t know how to sort out the contradictory research findings in this field.

For the time being, to preserve sanity, I’d keep these main points in mind:

First: don’t panic. The media LOVE to hype stories about this and that terrible result of technology. Most research I see doesn’t bear that out.

Second: don’t focus on averages. Focuses on the child, or the children, in front of you.

Is your teen not getting enough sleep? Try fixing that problem by limiting screen time. If she is getting enough sleep, no need to worry!

Is your student body managing their iPhones well? If yes, it’s all good! If no, then you can develop a policy to make things better.

Until we get clearer and more consistent research findings, I think we should respond — calmly — to the children right in front of us.

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