E-books ‘damage sleep and health’

In March 2013 I attended an interview with two senior managers from The International School of Moscow, having applied for the role of Head of ICT at the school. Pleasingly, I got the job and spent twelve happy months helping the school to improve its teaching of ICT (as it was) and improving its use of technology across the school, from Nursery to Year 11.

At the interview, the Headteacher asked me an interesting question: “Do you think that overexposure to digital screens is bad for children’s health?” I answered that I didn’t know, but that in setting realistic expectations of screen time and balancing them sensibly with other activities that we could certainly minimise any associated risks. I admitted that I hadn’t undertaken or even read enough research on the topic to give an informed answer. I still haven’t.

I did, however, recently stumble across this article on the BBC News website, which suggests that the blue light emitted by many e-readers and tablets can disrupt the quantity and quality of sleep we enjoy. Some Harvard Medical School professors did some research, you see. I haven’t explored the primary source yet. I will, I just haven’t yet.

Anyway, for the sake of stimulating a discussion, here is the article from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30574260

How do you feel about children’s exposure to digital screens? Have you read any research to support a conclusion one way or the other that you could share? I’d be very interested to read about your experiences.