Teenage sleep and technology engagement across the week.
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Orben, A., & Przybylski, A. K. (2020). Teenage sleep and technology engagement across the week.. PeerJ, 8 e8427. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8427
Background. Throughout the developed world, adolescents are growing up with increased access to and engagement with a range of screen-based technologies, allowing them to encounter ideas and people on a global scale from the intimacy of their bedroom. The concerns about digital technologies negatively influencing sleep are therefore especially noteworthy, as sleep has been proven to greatly affect both cognitive and emotional well-being. The associations between adolescents’ digital engagement and sleep should therefore be carefully investigated in research adhering to the highest methodological standards. This understood, studies published to date have not often done so; instead focusing mainly on data derived from general retrospective self-report questionnaires. The value of this approach has been called into question by recent studies showing that retrospective questionnaires might fail to accurately measure these variables of interest. Novel and diverse approaches to measurement are therefore necessary for academic study to progress. Methods. This study analyses data from 11,884 adolescents included in the UK Millennium Cohort Study to examine the association between digital engagement and adolescent sleep, comparing the relative effects of retrospective self-report versus time-use diary measures of technology use. The effects of digital engagement throughout the day and before bedtime were evaluated using Specification Curve Analysis with the aim of adding critical nuance to a research area primarily relying on retrospective self-report. Results. The study finds that there is a small negative association relating digital engagement to adolescent sleep both on weekdays and weekend days (median standardized association weekday = -0.06 and weekend = -0.03). There is a more negative association between digital engagement and total sleep time on weekdays compared to weekend days (median standardized weekday = -0.08, median standardized weekend = -0.02), while there is no such difference when examining adolescents’ bedtime. Surprisingly, and contrary to our expectations, there was no clear trend demonstrating that digital technology use before bedtime was associated with either the amount of sleep or a delay of bedtime in adolescents. Conclusions. Results show that the negative associations in evidence are mainly driven by retrospective technology use measures and measures of total time spent on digital devices during the day. The effects are overall very small: for example an additional hour of digital screen time per day was only related to a 9-minute decrease in total time spent sleeping on weekdays and a 3-minute decrease on weekends. Using digital screens 30 minutes before bed was associated with a 1-minute decrease in total time spent sleeping on weekdays and weekends. The study highlights the need for higher quality measures of digital screen time before interventions are designed.
Emmanuel College, Barnardo's UK, Huo Foundation
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8427
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/300670
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