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Daily Newscasts

Report: Children Getting Less Sleep Due to Electronic Media

September 12, 2011

RESTON, Va. - Kids today are not getting enough sleep, according to a new report that looks at the amount of time children spend indoors plugged into electronics and how this over-stimulation affects their sleep. Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training with the National Wildlife Federation, Reston, authored the report.

A generation ago, kids spent hours outdoors playing and interacting with others, but today the average child and teen in Virginia spends 7 to 8 hours a day on a computer or cell phone, playing video games or watching television, he says.

"This has a number of implications for the kids, their health and their overall fitness levels. For a number of reasons, we think this new 'indoor child' phenomenon in American society has really affected the ability of children to get a good night's sleep."

On average, kids ages 8 to 18 are losing between 10 and 14 hours of sleep every week because they are over-stimulated by using electronics, Coyle says. He suggests that parents help kids obtain more balance by making sure they're getting exercise outdoors - natural light helps promote sleep - and by trying to get youngsters unplugged from computers, cell phones and television at least an hour before bedtime.

Blogger Emily McKhann is the co-founder of TheMotherhood.com, an on-line community for moms. She has two young daughters and acknowledges it is not always easy for parents to find time to make sure their children are getting time outside. However, she says, it is important to find a way to work it in.

"One thing we're trying to do is actually give 'em some time to run around outside before they head off to school, just to start the day with some fresh air."

Tips on getting kids to spend more time outside and ways to reduce the time they spend in front of screens are in a new online guide available for parents and caregivers at www.BeOutThere.org.

The report,"Green Time for Sleep Time," is available at bit.ly/playoutside.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA