Increased risk of sleep problems and symptoms of depression has been seen in teenagers with habit of prolonged use of digital media during night.
While introduced only around 2007, most teenagers nowadays own smartphones. Due to wireless internet connections and cheap flat rates, teenagers with smartphones spend more time online and communicate with their peers for less money - for example via WhatsApp, which has changed their digital media use pattern profoundly.
A study by the University of Basel examined differences in digital media use between teenagers with smartphones and their peers with conventional mobile phones.
The results showed that during weekdays teenagers with smartphones spent more time on the internet than their peers with conventional mobile phones; on average two hours compared to one hour. In addition, they wrote more text messages daily; on average 85 messages compared to seven messages.
A particularly noticeable difference was found for the time when the teenagers were in their beds at night: only 17 percent of smartphone owners switched their devices off or put them on silent during the night compared to 47 percent of the teenagers with conventional mobile phones.
Moreover, teenagers with smartphones indicated to watch videos, to be online, and to text with friends more often during the night than their counterparts with conventional mobile phones.
Experts thus recommended that teenagers who suffer from sleep disorders or severe daytime tiredness to switch their digital media devices off at least one hour before bedtime.
The study is published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.