Mobile Devices Distract Adolescents From Negative Thoughts Before Sleep

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Summary: Controlled nighttime use of social media and apps can help ease teenagers’ negative thoughts before they fall asleep, a new study reports.

Source: Flinders University

Overuse of mobile devices gets a bad rap but an upside may be their ability to create a distraction and positively affect teenagers’ ability to get to sleep, new Flinders University research shows.   

Feedback from more than 600 teenagers from age 12 to 18 at South Australian schools between June and September 2019 has led the international research group to point to a more nuanced view on using the wide range of mobile content – led by Youtube, music apps, Instagram and Snapchat – before young people’s bedtime. 

“Many teenagers struggle with a racing mind when sleep doesn’t come easy,” says lead corresponding author Dr Serena Bauducco, a visiting postdoctoral researcher from Örebro University, Sweden. 

“This study shows that many adolescents use technology to distract themselves from negative thoughts, which may help them manage the sleep-onset process. Thus, distraction may be one mechanism explaining how sleep affects technology use, rather than vice-versa,” the study concludes. 

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