Use of Smartphones and Sleep Time Essay

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sleep and electronics. In particular, this research paper aims to explore the possible effects of screen time on sleep, based on experiences from participants in a survey. Prior to conducting the survey, the hypothesis was 'more screen time equals less sleep time'. Surveys are a valid research method to help test hypotheses by collecting information in the form of responses from target populations. By asking if screen time (e.g., video games, computers, mobile devices, and television) affected sleep outcomes of teenagers aged 14-18, the research paper could discover a negative correlation between screen time and sleep time. The negative correlation supported the hypothesis that teenagers exposed to higher levels of screen time, would sleep fewer hours. The research paper includes an appendix with a survey and excel data results collected from participants at Stuyvesant High School.


Teenagers have access to a wide array of electronics. From televisions to smart phones, to computers, today's youth are exposed to a host of devices that emit artificial light that may affect how much sleep they get. This research paper aims to explore the possible connection between screen time and sleep time. Specifically, the aim is to test the hypothesis: Does increased screen time have a negative effect on sleep time? A multi-question survey will be used to determine any possible effects screen time may have on the sleeping time of high-school aged teenagers.

The hypothesis was developed from a few key studies examining the effects of screen time on sleep. One study performed a literature review on 67 studies, discovering their outcomes. "We reviewed 67 studies published from 1999 to early 2014. We found that screen time is adversely associated with sleep outcomes (primarily shortened duration and delayed timing) in 90% of studies" (Hale & Guan, 2015, p. 50). The results suggest increased screen time has a negative effect on sleep time, by decreasing length of sleep and time in deep sleep. The study also provided a possible secondary negative effect from increased screen time, well-being. "Youth should be advised to limit or reduce screen time exposure, especially before or during bedtime hours to minimize any harmful effects of screen time on sleep and well-being" (Hale & Guan, 2015, p. 50). Because of lack of sleep can lead to a negative impact on a person's well-being, screen time should be decreased before sleep.

The survey will be conducted based on a structure provided in a 2013 study on presleep activities. "Presleep activities have been implicated in the declining sleep duration of young people. The top 20 activities were grouped into 3 behavioral sets: screen sedentary time, nonscreen sedentary time, and self-care" (Foley et al., 2013, p. X9). The 3 behavioral sets will form the basis of the survey as well as offer direction towards what kind of questions to ask the participants. The study's results were similar to previous article in that increased screen time led to decreased sleep time.

The study also remarked on the type of sleep onset and its effect on the degree of screen time experienced by participants.
"...television watching was the most commonly reported activity, and screen sedentary time accounted for ∼30 minutes of the 90-minute presleep period. Participants with a later sleep onset had significantly greater engagement in screen time than those with an earlier sleep onset" (Foley et al., 2013, p. X9). Those with later sleep onset had more screen time. The questions of the survey will include the degree of sleepiness the participant feels before going to bed as this can provide additional information. Specifically, the correlation between later onset sleep and screen sedentary time. "Screen sedentary time dominated the presleep period in this sample and was associated with a later sleep onset. The development of interventions to reduce screen-based behaviors in the presleep period may promote earlier sleep onset and ultimately improved sleep duration" (Foley et al., 2013, p. X9).


Survey researchers typically limit themselves to face-to-face interviews and questionnaires (Seale, Gobo, Gubrium, & Silverman, 2007). This research paper uses the survey researcher method in order to collect information to refute or support the hypothesis. While a small sample cannot be used to determine a general correlation, it can provide information to support or deny a claim. "In order to obtain a representative sample, some criteria have been developed to weight the answers of the interviewed people who, on some sociodemographic characteristics, are similar to those who have not been reached by interviewers or have refused the interview" (Seale, Gobo, Gubrium, & Silverman, 2007, p. 412). The main strategy for data collection is a paper survey administered to fifteen students aged 14-18 from Stuyvesant High School. For the purposes of this survey, answers were anonymous and did not include mention of gender, race, sexuality, or ethnicity.

The survey had 8 questions. Some were yes or no questions, while others aimed to give a numerical value. Students were given 15 minutes to answer the survey. When they finished, the papers were collected and participants were asked if they would like to participate in an interview. The face-to-face interview lasted 5 minutes per person with 4 people of the 15 participating. The answers provided additional information for the discussion section and enabled further examination of screen time.

The use of the survey gave a chance to create numerical and graphical representation of respondent answers. The face-to-face interview gave respondents a chance to expound further on their answers. The time frame used for the survey was during lunch period. The students were asked to participate randomly.


The negative correlation anticipated from the hypothesis was confirmed. Student responses demonstrated less sleep time with more screen time. This may be due to late onset sleep. The respondents also stated they use electronic devices because of homework and the most popular electronic device were smartphones.

Brief interviews conducted with participants after the survey revealed students used social media apps on….....

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Foley, L. S., Maddison, R., Jiang, Y., Marsh, S., Olds, T., & Riley, K. (2013). Presleep Activities and Time of Sleep Onset in Children. PEDIATRICS, 131(2), X9-X9. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1651d

Hale, L., & Guan, S. (2015). Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: A systematic literature review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 21, 50-58. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.07.007

Seale, C., Gobo, G., Gubrium, J. F., & Silverman, D. (2007). Qualitative research practice. London.

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