Digital Media Use and Sleep disturbances in Children and Adolescents – Recommendations


In a literature review in the subject of digital media use and sleep disturbances in children, conducted by the Tnuda Center, a significant association was found between digital media use around lights out time and at night and sleep disturbances.  The night time use mainly causes postponement of sleep onset, but also impairment of sleep quality and daytime tiredness. In addition, several mechanisms were suggested (biological and psycho-social) relating to the way that digital media use might affect sleep indices.

Therefore, the Tnuda Center has formulated draft recommendations whose goal is to increase awareness of the subject of digital media use and possible sleep disturbances amongst parents, adolescents and children and teachers, and to present possible ways to reduce night time use.

The recommendations below are preliminary and constitute a basis for discussion amongst professional people in the health, education and technology field.



  Within the home:

  • Timing of digital media consumption – it is recommended that the guidelines dealing with limiting the degree of cellphone use should be expanded to also include a recommendation to refrain from using cellphones and all other digital devices (which might impair sleep quality) at night. Also it is recommended to enable “no screen time” before recommended lights out time. This break will prevent delay in going to sleep time, the mental arousal related to contents viewed and the effect of light from screens and of non-ionizing radiation on the biological clock. According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which were also adopted by the Israel Sleep Research Society and the Israeli Pediatric Association, viewing digital screens should be refrained from for one hour before going to sleep.
  • Distancing of digital devices from children’s bedrooms – The recommendations to distance the device and its charging from children’s bedrooms is detailed in the Tnuda website, and was formulated according to the current scientific knowledge on the subject of non-ionizing radiation. Accordingly, it is recommended that cellphones and laptops should not be in bedrooms and should not be charging there at night, because of suspected effects of non-ionizing radiation and bright light on the sleep mechanism. Also, removal of screens form children’s bedrooms should be considered, since they affect the degree of digital media use overall, particularly before sleep.



 Within the educational system:

  • The introduction of technology for pedagogical purposes to the educational system should take into account different aspects (health, safety and pedagogical) regarding the ways it is used. In addition, formal and informal educational systems that serve, amongst other things, as means whereby children and adolescents acquire knowledge, tools and life skills, should strive to increase awareness regarding health promotion on the subject of electromagnetic radiation.
  • Raising parental awareness of the subject of sleep – studies have shown that parental involvement is an influential factor in determining the time when children go to sleep, and it leads to earlier bedtime and prolongation of overall sleep time. Therefore, it has been suggested that parents should be trained on the subject of the health effects of digital technology use at night. Emphasis will be placed on the parental role in reducing screen time and educated use of this technology.



 Within the research framework:

  • A study evaluating the effect of "E-learning" program on children’s and adolescents’ health – taking into consideration the paucity of studies that have directly evaluated the exposure to digital media during the morning and sleep indices, it is recommended that studies should be performed to fill the knowledge gaps that exist on this subject. Studies should evaluate the degree of exposure amongst children and adolescents to different media devices with an emphasis on the timing of exposure during daytime hours. In parallel, information should be gathered on various sleep indices. Cross sectional studies can evaluate short term effects, and follow up studies can evaluate long term health effects.


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Updated: 16.7.2018