Today’s kids are growing up in a world where screens are a fixture from the moment they’re born — something no previous generation has experienced. Now a new study published in Scientific Reports shows a serious consequence of growing up in the digital age: The use of touchscreen devices is linked to sleep loss in infants as young as 6 months old.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Every hour infants and toddlers aged 6 to 36 months spent using touchscreen devices was associated with 15.6 minutes less total sleep. That number may seem small but considering that at these ages, “sleep is essential for cognitive development,” the study authors write, any amount of lost sleep is a big deal. There was also a significant association between tablet use and taking longer to fall asleep at night. (Data was collected from 715 UK infants and toddlers by researchers from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at the University of London.)

Given what we know about how screens mess with our sleep as adults, these findings are, unfortunately, not very surprising. But they can serve as a wake up call. When babies are losing sleep due to screens, it’s truly time to reevaluate our relationship with technology and prioritize unplugging at every age.

Read the full study here.

Originally published at