Digital Screen Time and Pediatric Sleep: Evidence from a Preregistered Cohort Study

Published:November 02, 2018DOI:


      To determine the extent to which time spent with digital devices predicts meaningful variability in pediatric sleep.

      Study design

      Following a preregistered analysis plan, data from a sample of American children (n = 50 212) derived from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health were analyzed. Models adjusted for child-, caregiver-, household-, and community-level covariates to estimate the potential effects of digital screen use.


      Each hour devoted to digital screens was associated with 3-8 fewer minutes of nightly sleep and significantly lower levels of sleep consistency. Furthermore, those children who complied with 2010 and 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics guidance on screen time limits reported between 20 and 26 more minutes, respectively, of nightly sleep. However, links between digital screen time and pediatric sleep outcomes were modest, accounting for less than 1.9% of observed variability in sleep outcomes.


      Digital screen time, on its own, has little practical effect on pediatric sleep. Contextual factors surrounding screen time exert a more pronounced influence on pediatric sleep compared to screen time itself. These findings provide an empirically robust template for those investigating the digital displacement hypothesis as well as informing policy-making.



      AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), NSCH (National Survey of Children's Health)
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      • To sleep and dream without digital screens
        The Journal of PediatricsVol. 205
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          Countless studies have documented the rise in digital screen usage from infancy to adolescence, and some of its consequences on child development. Przybylski reports in this volume of The Journal a cross-sectional study from the 2016 National Survey of Children's analyzing 50 212 children to determine how time spent with digital devices predicted meaningful variability in pediatric sleep. Each hour devoted to digital screens was associated with 3 to 8 fewer minutes of nightly sleep and significantly lowered levels of sleep consistency.
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