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Children too much on screens with the pandemic, sleep disorders have grown – Growth

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The pandemic has drastically increased exposure to electronic devices in children and young people, leading to a sharp increase in sleep disorders, which affect one in three children. It emerges from a study conducted on more than 1,000 children and adolescents and coordinated by the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital together with the La Sapienza University and Tor Vergata. The findings were published in Sleep Medicine. The study analyzed 1084 questionnaires administered between April and June 2021 to parents of children and adolescents aged between 2 and 18 years.

The study found that compared to the pre-pandemic period, the increase in time spent in front of a screen involved 68.7% of children and teenagers. Specifically, the exposure time has more than tripled for school reasons (from just under an hour a day to three and a half hours) and involved 72% of children and teenagers. While for recreational use the use has almost doubled (from one hour and three quarters to three hours) and concerned 49.7%. Considering only the evening hours (after 6 pm), the increase in exposure time to the devices was observed in 30% of the sample (325 children). It has gone from just 13.7% of children and young people who spent more than two hours in front of screens before Covid to 29.1% (more than double). The study then showed an increase of more than 50% of sleep disturbances compared to the pre-pandemic period. In detail, it went from 240 children and adolescents who already showed sleep disturbances before the start of the pandemic, to 367 during the pandemic: 33.9% of the entire sample, practically one in three minors.

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“The data has shown a correlation between the increase in the use of electronic devices during Covid and the increase in sleep disturbances – explains Dr. Romina Moavero of the developmental neurology of the Child Jesus – But it is the lifestyle of children and of boys to have changed profoundly. Electronic devices are now part of their lives, both at school and in society. All this only underlines the importance of sleep hygiene recommendations which must always be considered the first line of treatment”.

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