a primary aged schoolboy sits alone at his desk with his head in his hands . He has gone to sleep whilst reading .
a primary aged schoolboy sits alone at his desk with his head in his hands . He has gone to sleep whilst reading .

Device addicted kids sleeping in class

CHILDREN are falling asleep in classrooms and struggling to do lessons because they are "regularly defying" their parents to keep their electronic devices on all night, a national inquiry into sleep has found.

Adults are also bleary eyed as a result of an explosion of digital devices streaming movies, games and social media late into the night - but it's the nation's children and young adults suffering the most.

Up to 24 per cent of all Australian children now have "frequent problems sleeping" and 70 per cent of teens are estimated to have insufficient sleep, The Bedtime Reading Sleep Health Awareness parliamentary inquiry found.

 

Children are falling asleep because they are staying up late on their electronic devices.
Children are falling asleep because they are staying up late on their electronic devices.

Chairman and North Sydney Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman called on the Federal Government to fund research into the effects of the digital devices on children's sleep health.

"Of particular concern is that many children are having their sleep continually disrupted by their smartphones or other devices," he said.

Half of all children are regularly using screen based devices at bedtime and the charity Wellbeing in Schools Australia says even primary school children fear disconnecting from their online friends and as a result are "keeping their electronic devices switched on 24/7".

"The result being they are reporting to teachers of having their sleep regularly disrupted through the night," chief executive Jac Van Velsen said.

"We are regularly hearing at every training we run, the stories from school leaders and staff of students who defy parent's instructions to turn off electronic devices before bedtime.

"They are not as attentive in class, struggling to remain awake, functioning below their capacity and in some instances not attending school on a regular basis or starting to disengage."

MP Trent Zimmerman wans the Federal Government to fund research into effects of digital devices on children’s sleep health.
MP Trent Zimmerman wans the Federal Government to fund research into effects of digital devices on children’s sleep health.

Even 30 minutes less sleep for children can affect children's intelligence tests.

Lack of sleep in children also inhibits their growth hormones, raises obesity risks and drives up cortisol levels, "making it difficult to wind down, go to sleep or stay awake", the national inquiry found.

Blue light emitted by LED and other screens was also suppressing the melatonin of children and adding to the sleep disruption.

"The Committee heard that the majority of teenagers are getting insufficient sleep on most school nights, in part due to continual disruptions from their digital devices," it concluded.

 

Half of all children are regularly using screen based devices at bedtime.
Half of all children are regularly using screen based devices at bedtime.

Children who use three hours of screen time a day were more likely to have higher rates of poor sleep and lower educational outcomes.

All up, the sleep deprivation toll on the nation is huge.

Sleep deprivation is estimated to kill 3017 Australians - from heart conditions to motor accidents caused by drowsy driving.

Around 7.4 million Aussies suffer from a bad night's sleep, the experts estimated, which costs the economy $1.8 billion a year.

Adults should have between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

School aged children should have between nine and 11 hours and adolescents between eight and ten hours.

The inquiry also said Medicare should have rebates for diagnostic sleep studies and pensioners with sleep apnea should have access to more help.