Sleep Through Toddlerhood: The Distinct Roles of Overall Media Use and Use of Media to Regulate Child Distress

Noy Benita, Avigail Gordon-Hacker, Noa Gueron-Sela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT:Objective:Excessive media exposure has been associated with various sleep disturbances in early childhood. However, previous research mostly addressed the overall amount of media use while neglecting the role of media use practices. The purpose of this study was to examine whether media use practices (specifically, maternal use of media to regulate child distress) and overall media use predict distinct aspects of children's sleep. We hypothesized that frequent maternal use of media to regulate child distress will predict difficulties in sleep regulation, whereas higher child screen time will predict lower sleep duration.Methods:One-hundred fifty-one mothers (predominantly from the United Kingdom) completed anonymous online questionnaires via the Prolific platform that assessed child sleep latency and duration, use of media to regulate child distress, overall child screen time, and demographic covariates at 2 time points: 22 months (T1) and 26 months (T2) of children's age.Results:Maternal use of media to regulate child distress at T1 (but not screen time) predicted longer sleep latency at T2. Conversely, screen time (but not media to regulate distress) at T1 predicted shorter sleep duration at T2. These results were obtained while controlling for multiple covariates and sleep and media use at both time points.Conclusion:Findings suggest that media use practices and overall use have differential effects on sleep. Specifically, the use of media-based regulation strategies may interfere with the development of children's ability to self-soothe and regulate arousal in contexts that require the use of regulatory skills, such as transition to sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-697
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • media use practices
  • screen time
  • sleep duration
  • sleep latency
  • toddlerhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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