The advent of the internet has been met with deep embraces and deeper criticisms. On one end, there is the indispensable use of innovation in making life better for people. On the other, there is the side effect which is, basically, the interference in the status quo of what was attainable.
This implies that although the users might benefit largely from its numerous uses in daily lives, there are still some aspects of the services rendered that should still be called to question. One of these is the effect of internet use on sleep.
In a 1981 survey, children from ages 1-5 in the U.S slept for a total of 11.5–13.5 hours. However, these statistics nose-dived twenty-five years later, in a 2005 study of a similar sample of children, ages 1–5-year-old, where it was identified that these group slept for a total of 9.5-11 hours.
It would be worthy of note that, while the methods to these studies differ, to make them not worthy of comparison; the results dictate a decline in children's sleep duration. While the amount of sleep that would be adduced adequate for children within this age range is unclear, it is almost certain to be more than the reported amount in this study.
According to findings on sleep problems in relation to online practices, it was discovered that these problems were common among children and adolescents, with major issues found in the lives of parents.
From this research, it was documented that an approximate 20% of youth were discovered to being incapable of going offline, hence internet addiction (Ko et al., 2005), and 45% of children between the ages of 12 to 17 years were reported by their parents to have had at least one kind of dominant sleep problem or the other (Gau, 2006).
From a later study, it was noted that addiction-related sleep problems and addiction are widespread, and supply a distinct amount to disease bordering on mental and neurological disorders (Fineberg et al., 2013).
For the past years, there has been an increasing amount of internet use, which includes the use of the Web, emails, social media chat rooms, instant messaging, video games made possible through computer consoles, internet-based games, etc.
These internet formats have made the technology not only a ready medium for relaxation among children and adults alike but also paves the way for loss of interaction within the human community.
While being generally addictive, the constant interaction with these devices leads to a corresponding increase in alertness hormones and reduces the ability to disengage from the activity, through a willing action.
It has also been observed the internet features that involve suspense, excitement, drama, and conflict may be too engrossing for children, especially during bedtime. From the perspective of a child, violent media content – actual and implied – might reduce the duration of sleep gotten, which could lead to symptoms associated with increased stress and arousal hormones.
Children and young adults are usually vulnerable to these effects. Because the secretion of these hormones is connected with the rising delay of sleep and poor sleep quality, there is a likelihood that viewing exciting or dramatic content delays sleep onset and reduces sleep quality.
Beyond these, children are also susceptible to direct physiological effects, associated with viewing frightening, conflictual, or violent content, which might end up producing nightmares and associated night awakenings, a contributive factor to poor sleep quality.
This could significantly occur during the use of media channels especially when it is dark. When this happens, it suppresses melatonin secretion, which delays the onset of sleep. The psychology of sleep is that it is brought about by the production of a particular hormone called melatonin that is chiefly responsible for sleep and increases in the evenings as a result of the absence of direct light to the eyes.
However, this is reversed in the effect of internet use on sleep in that the user would be unable to fall asleep because the intensity of light decays with the square of the distance from its source. This is common in devices such as computer and video game use, in which the viewer is very close to the screen.
Good sleep does not usually arrive as a factor of decision. Except in cases of actual physical tiredness, before a person can sleep there has to be some physical measures put in place before it can be actualized. The evidence that abounds in this claim is that when a person is about to sleep, he/she have to lay down, close their eyes, and clear their minds of anything that could dissuade sleep.
Nevertheless, when it comes to media use, the physical actions are suspended as the individual is oftentimes sitting up, with eyes opened and the mind is engrossed in whatever entertainment that might be showing on the screen.
Finally, while the effect of internet use on sleep might be generally inimical, it also has some usefulness that has been known to improve sleep. It has been noted that some may calm internet users and promote sleep. Television programs or late night shows, particularly in the case of live streaming might encourage sleep because of the solemn atmosphere these shows connote.
In addition, the improvement in technology especially in the innovation of night mode on most internet devices is devised to make the user sleep even if the person is unwilling.
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