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by Liam Kirkaldy
21 February 2020
Mobile phone use having damaging impact on young people’s sleep

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Mobile phone use having damaging impact on young people’s sleep

Mobile phone use is having a negative impact on young people’s sleep and general mental wellbeing, according to a new report from the University of Glasgow.

In a review of evidence on screen time, commissioned by the Scottish Government, researchers found that sleep quality is negatively influenced by mobile phone use in general and social media in particular, while night time mobile use and problematic social media use were linked to depressed mood through experiences of poor quality sleep.

The report also warned of the link between online bullying and shorter sleep, with adolescents experiencing distressing thoughts and emotions.

Releasing the report, Sleep Scotland interim chief executive Karen Jenkinson said: “Poor sleep is a huge problem in our society, and excessive screen time is a contributing factor, leading to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It’s time to wake up to the importance of sleep for our health and wellbeing.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “There are many positive things about technology, screens and social media. However in a society where so many young people have access to a mobile device and social media platforms, it is important that we get an accurate picture of the impact that can have on their sense of emotional wellbeing and their ability to get a proper and uninterrupted sleep.

“Of course it’s not just young people who have a phone or tablet by the side of their bed every night but this research shows the potentially negative impact on children and young people.

“This review is a significant piece of work that gives us a much better insight into the connections between screen time, particularly social media use, and disrupted sleep. While the evidence base is still developing, the findings demonstrate why, in February last year, we announced that we would be providing advice, specific to Scotland, on the healthy use of social media and screen time.

“That advice – being co-produced by young people and for young people – will be published in spring and will add to the help and guidance available to help ensure young people can lead heathier lives.”

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