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Report: Children Getting Less Sleep Due to Electronic Media

September 12, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kids today are just not getting enough sleep, according to a new report that looks at children and the amount of time they spend inside - plugged into electronics - and how this over-stimulation affects their sleep.

The report was written by Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training at the National Wildlife Federation, who says that, a generation ago, kids spent hours outdoors playing and interacting with others, but today, the average child and teen in Kentucky spends about seven to eight hours per day on the computer, on the cell phone, playing video games or watching television.

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

Coyle says on average, kids aged 8 to 18 are losing between 10 and 14 hours of sleep per week because they are over-stimulated by use of electronic devices. He says some ways parents can help kids get more balance are to make sure they're getting exercise outdoors - the natural light helps promote sleep - and to try to get kids unplugged from computers, cell phones and TVs at least an hour before bedtime.

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

"So, one of the things were 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."

For some tips on how to help get kids spend more time outside and ways to help reduce time spent in front of screens, a new on-line guide is available for parents and caregivers at www.beoutthere.org

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

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY