Mobile devices distract adolescents from negative thoughts before falling asleep
Summary: Controlled use of social media and apps at night can help reduce negative thoughts in teenagers before bed, according to a new study.
Source: Flinders University
Excessive use of mobile devices can have a negative effect, but it may also have the benefit of distracting and positively affecting teenagers’ ability to sleep, new research from Flinders University suggests.
Feedback from more than 600 teenagers aged 12 to 18 in South Australian schools between June and September 2019 has led the international research team to take a more nuanced approach to the use of a wide range of mobile content – led by YouTube, music apps and Instagram. and Snapchat – before the youngsters go to bed.
“Many teenagers struggle with a racing mind when sleep doesn’t come easily,” says Dr. Serena Bauducco, a visiting postdoctoral researcher at Örebro University in Sweden.
“This study shows that many adolescents use technology to distract themselves from negative thoughts, which can help them manage the process of falling asleep. Thus, distraction may be one mechanism that explains how sleep affects technology use, rather than the other way around,” the study concludes.
According to the study published in the journal, the majority of the 631 adolescents surveyed used technology to distract themselves from negative or distressing thoughts, with 23.6% saying “yes” and 38.4% saying “sometimes”. Sleep advances (Oxford Academic).
However, the study found that youth with existing sleep problems were more likely to use the app than those who reported no sleep problems, prompting the researchers to warn that other solutions are needed to help teenagers fall asleep.
Passive entertainment, interacting through music apps or Youtube videos, or through Instagram or Snapchat, were considered the most popular distractions.
According to the first author of the study, Alexandra Daniels, a psychology graduate from Flinders University, the complex relationship between sleep and technology is well illustrated by the tendency of some adolescents with sleep problems to use devices more often before bed.
“This study provides evidence that the relationship between teenagers, technology and sleep is much more complex than the previously accepted notion that technology use before bedtime is always negative and harmful,” he says.
South Australian child and adolescent sleep expert Professor Michael Gradisar, who led the study, said the research suggests that recommendations for targeted use of certain apps may become an integral part of some adolescents’ sleep routines to help them regulate their negative thoughts. .
Professor Gradisar, a professor of sleep psychology at Flinders University who now focuses on a number of technologies as head of sleep science at Sleep Cycle in Sweden, says that good sleep habits from infancy through adolescence are important for developing healthy sleep routines into adulthood.
Study participants were asked which app distracts them from negative or distressing thoughts – texting, phone calls, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, Tumblr and Spotify /iTunes/Apple Music, Netflix/ Stan, Viber/WhatsApp, game app, audiobook or ‘other’.
Participants reported a variety of technology preferences, including cell phone, iPad, laptop, desktop computer, iPod/MP3 player, television, game console, or “other”.
The researchers note that TikTok and other apps have recently gained popularity in a rapidly changing field.
In a previous study Sleep medicine According to Flinders University researchers, high school students’ use of phones, laptops and game consoles in the hour before bedtime or in bed before falling asleep was associated with an increased chance of insufficient sleep on school nights.
“Technology use in the evening should be monitored in order to minimize feasible limitations and harms, because technology remains an integral part of adolescents’ evenings,” they concluded.
The National Sleep Foundations recommends that teens ages 14 to 17 get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night.
About this neurodevelopmental and sleep research news
Author: Tania Bawden
Source: Flinders University
Contact: Tania Bawden – Flinders University
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original research: Open access.
“Using Technology to Help Sleep: Do Adolescents Use Apps to Distract Negative Thoughts?” Serena Bauducco et al. SLEEP Advances
Using technology to aid sleep: Do adolescents use apps to distract themselves from negative thoughts?
The aim of this study was; (1) explore whether adolescents use technology to distract from negative thoughts before sleep, (2) assess whether adolescents with sleep problems use technology to distract themselves more than adolescents without sleep complaints, and (3) they collect qualitative information about which devices and apps adolescents use as distractions.
This study used a mixed-methods cross-sectional design where 684 adolescents (M = 15.1, SD = 1.2, 46% female) answered both quantitative and qualitative questions about sleep (perceived sleep problem, sleep onset time (SOT) and time to fall asleep [SOL]) and the use of technology as a distraction from negative thoughts.
The majority of adolescents answered “yes” or “sometimes” to technology to distract from negative thoughts (23.6% and 38.4%). Adolescents who answered yes to using technology as a distraction were more likely to report sleep problems, longer SOL, and later SOT than adolescents who answered no. The most popular tool for distraction was the phone due to its availability, and the most used apps for distraction were YouTube, Snapchat, and music apps.
This study shows that many adolescents use technology to distract themselves from negative thoughts, which can help manage the process of falling asleep. Thus, distraction may be one mechanism that explains how sleep affects technology use, rather than the other way around.