Research, carried out by King’s College London and Cardiff University, suggests that just having a device, even when switched off, in a child’s bedroom can cause sleep disruption.


It is widely acknowledged that the use of screen-based devices before going to bed can interfere with melatonin production, delaying and interrupting sleep through brain stimulation. Researchers accessed data from 11 studies involving at least 125,000 children to find out if technology was impacting on the quality and duration of sleep. They found that using smartphones or tablets before bedtime doubled the risk of disrupted sleep and doubled the chances of feeling tired the following day.

Noticeably, researchers discovered that sleep was significantly disturbed by the presence of devices even when they are turned off – almost to the same level as actually using the gadget – suggesting that they should be removed from bedrooms altogether to improve sleep. Since 2013, Smartphone ownership has jumped from four in ten for 12-year-olds to almost seven in ten for 13-year-olds*. This rapid increase in the number of children owning mobile phones is a cause of concern amongst health professionals. The Department of Health recommends that children under 16 should use mobile phones for short, essential calls only and the World Health Organisation has confirmed that mobile phone radiation may cause cancer by listing it in the same cancer risk category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform. For children, mobile phone radiation absorption is much deeper and greater as radiation is more easily able to go past the ear and into the head since a child’s ear and skull is thinner.

Fitting a device, such as an R2L Radiation Reducer (£24.95 inc p&p) to the back of your child’s phone is an easy way to help protect against the long-term effects of radiation and has been proven to reduce exposure to mobile phone radiation by up to 70 per cent. It does not affect call quality and works with any mobile device, including tablets and laptops that uses 3G and 4G service to connect to the internet. Visit screen2bsafe.com for further information.

*Ofcom Children and Parents: Media Use Report October 2014

Wendy McCague

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