The telework which many parents were forced into during the CoViD-19 pandemic, has brought advantages and disadvantages to everyone’s family and working life. Among these, a team of researchers from Flinders University (Australia) has added two – one positive, the other less – concerning younger children: if mum and dad (or both) work from home, children sleep more. , however, during the day they spend more time alone in front of TV, PC and tablet. Telework has also had positive and negative consequences on the well-being of parents: reduced daytime sleepiness but also a slight increase in depressive symptoms.
The study, published in Sleep Medicine, included 1,518 American children between the ages of one and 18 months and, thanks to an automated video-sleepgraphy technology, data on sleep duration and quality of the end of 2019 were compared with those of a year later (November and December 2020). In addition, the researchers had parents fill out online questionnaires regarding children’s exposure to TVs and tablets. Finally, they heard the parents about their daytime sleepiness and their depression levels.
40 more minutes of sleep. The study came to these conclusions: for younger children, the duration of night sleep increased by an average of 40 minutes, while for older children, screen time increased by 18 minutes. In the parents, daytime sleepiness decreased but symptoms of mild depression also increased.
According to Dr. Kahn, one of the authors of the study, the results show the need to “encourage parents on the one hand to reduce their children’s screen time and, on the other, to choose appropriate digital multimedia content. Furthermore, despite some downsides, the increased duration of infant sleep and the resulting decrease in parental daytime sleepiness suggest that telework has substantial benefits. In conclusion: allowing parents to work from home should be carefully considered to improve family well-being even in the post-pandemic ».