It’s a sight that has changed dramatically in recent years, but kids in prams are now more likely to be seen playing with a smartphone or tablet than a soft toy or set of oversized plastic keys.
The saviour of many a harried parent, these app-filled gadgets have helped prevent millions of tantrums around the world.
The brief moment of peace they provide comes at a cost though, and one greater than the price of the gadget itself.
As well as getting your iPhone or iPad back smeared in grimy fingerprints, new studies have suggested such tech use is preventing wee ones from sleeping properly.
The study by Birbeck University of London has shown that toddlers aged between six and 11 months who play with smartphones and tablets get less sleep than those who don’t.
According to the study, every hour of touchscreen tech use results in 15.6 minutes less less.
On average, based on the 715 children monitored, that equates to around 26.4 minutes less sleep per night. Given that sleep is so crucial to a child’s development, this seemingly small figure could have huge ramifications.
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“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,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Tim Smith told the BBC.
The study found that such tech use affected the “neuroplasticity” of kids’ brains, hampering their ability to form new connections in response to new situations or environmental changes.
Despite highlighting a correlation between tech use and brain changes, Dr. Smith doesn’t believe there is yet cause to ban such gadget use in infants.
“Total restriction of touchscreen use may limit young children in terms of the potential benefits of these devices,” the study states.
Not all are convinced, however. Cognitive development researcher Dr. Anna Joyce stated: “It may be worth parents limiting touchscreens [with blue light] in the hours before bedtime.”
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Do you let your kids use your portable gadgets? Let us know below.