Use of electronic devices linked to insomnia in adolescents


As the use of electronic devices continues to grow, new research shows the relationship between time spent on these devices, psychological distress and insomnia.

A team, led by Maysoun H. Atoum, Department of Community and Mental Health Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Hashemite University, examined the relationships between the use of electronic devices and the outcomes of insomnia and psychological distress with insomnia and psychology as mediators.

Growing concern for device use

Although computers, smartphones and tablets are becoming necessities of life, especially for younger generations, it is difficult to define the relationships between the use of electronic devices, insomnia and psychological distress.

“Given the risk of overuse of electronic devices, experts suggested controlling electronic devices for adolescents for two hours a day,” the authors wrote. “Even the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend limiting the use of electronic derivatives to one hour or less per day.”

While electronic devices are necessary for academic and social functions, sleep quality and duration is also crucial for adolescents for learning ability, memory processes, emotional regulation, and related behaviors.

The study

In the correlation study, investigators examined cross-sectional data on hours of electronic device use, insomnia, and psychological distress for 485 randomly selected adolescents in Jordan using a technique of multi-stage cluster random sampling.

The target study participants were between the ages of 15 and 17 and attended two secondary schools in Jordan.

A total of 235 male students and 250 female students were included in the sample.

Investigators collected data from participants during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Sleep-related measures included average hours of sleep per day, including naps, perceived sleep adequacy, and insomnia.

The connection

Overall, the team found that hours of electronic device use was a predictor of psychological distress and mediation analysis showed that the relationship between these hours and insomnia was mediated by the scores. psychological distress (indirect effect size = 0.0462; 95% CI 0.0095 -.0837).

The study also shows that excessive use of electronic devices can cause unwanted psychological problems, similar to what has been found in previous studies. For example, teens who use electronic devices more to alter their mood because the brain’s reward system releases endorphins and dopamine that can contribute to addiction and symptoms of psychological disorders and cause impulsivity.

On the other hand, the relationship between hours of electronic device use and psychological distress was not mediated by insomnia (indirect effect size = 0.0247; 95% CI, -0. 0063 to 0.0569).

“Hours of electronic device use may exert their effect on insomnia through psychological distress, which may lead to insomnia,” the authors wrote. “These data do not support the hypothesis that insomnia might influence the relationship between electronic device use and psychological distress.”

Investigators said more research was needed and other stakeholders should be involved.

“The study supports policymakers and a collaborative team of parents, educators, and healthcare professionals to prevent the harmful effects of excessive electronic devices,” the authors wrote.

The study, “Psychological Distress Mediates the Relationship Between Electronic Device Use and Insomnia in Adolescents,” was published online in the Electronic Journal of General Medicine.


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