Violent Television Linked With Child Sleep Disorders
Parents can profess to the sleepless nights incurred by bad dreams of their children. There will be nights where monsters hide under the bed or even horror characters hide in their children’s closet. These behaviors have been established by several observational studies to be highly correlated to the media. However, early this month, a study was published showing the relationship between violent television shows to poor sleeping behavior of children.
The research was conducted with over 500 children, 3-5 years old, and their quality of sleep was investigated along with their television viewing patterns. Results have suggested that viewing of educational shows (in replacement to violent shows) that are appropriate for the children’s age have caused improved quality of sleep for the observed children.
Wendy Walsh, a clinical psychologist, mentioned that children are at an age where they are literal thinkers and will most likely not understand that witches or monsters in television shows are all for pretense. When a child sees violent media, it will cause him or her anxiety over what was seen and will lead to disruption of sleep.
The result of the study on the relationship of violence in television shows and sleep disorders in children is just part of the many aims of the study which focuses on the occurrence of aggressive behavior and pro-social behavior. One of the methods in the study was to encourage parents in substituting appropriate television content for their children especially that several research have already shown the relationship between aggression in children and exposure to violent media content. Violent media has also been reported to cause emotional and behavioral problems in kids.
Parents were suggested to watch television shows with their kids and to explain the program to the kids afterwards, to establish clarity in their understanding with regards to what they saw. This practice enhances the pro-social and educational awareness of the children as well as giving the parents the opportunity to monitor the media content their kids are watching.
Questionnaires were also used to investigate the quality of sleep the children are having, and this aided the study in quantifying the occurrence of latency on sleep-onset, frequent night waking and fatigue during the day time. What was challenging for the researchers was quantifying the latency of sleep-onset where about 26 percent of the kids took over 20 minutes before falling asleep most nights of a week.
The intervention group in the study showed a significant decrease in sleep disorders, when compared to the children in the control group. After half a year from the interventions, the observed improvements in sleep disruption reduced. This made the researchers to suggest to the parents that they continue providing positive and appropriate education media exposure to their children. Eventually, as children will grow older, television preference may change, what is important is that at a young age, they are exposed to healthy television. Walsh also added that watching any television show before bed time of children will affect their quality of sleep. Television has a stimulating effect that does not only influence children, but adults as well. Contact a local sleep specialist if your children may suffer from a sleep disorder.