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Educate Magazine - 2021-05-01

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Night-time phones

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New research by the University of Glasgow has highlighted young people’s ability to disengage from social media before bed. Index of Nighttime Offline Distress, or iNOD, is the latest research output from the #sleepyteens research group at the University of Glasgow’s School of Psychology, who explore how young people’s screen use interacts with their ability to rest at night. Between September 2018 and March 2019, researchers used an online survey to gather data from 3,008 young people in Scotland aged between 10 and 18 about their use of social media at night. Dr Holly Scott, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Psychology, is the paper’s lead author. Dr Scott said: “It’s not unusual to hear parents and teachers expressing concern about the amount of time that young people spend on their mobile phones, sometimes even using pathologising words like ‘addiction’ to describe their behaviour. “However, that concern overlooks how important friendships are to the development of adolescent brains. As young people move away from their families and begin to strike out on their own, staying in touch with friends becomes more important, as does maintaining a feeling of connection – no-one wants to feel they’re missing out on new developments. Phones and social media give them an unprecedented ability to extend the feeling of face-toface connection.” The researchers asked them to answer a series of questions about their social media habits and quality of sleep. The questions covered topics including respondents’ fear of missing out on social interactions on social media, and their emotional connection to their preferred social platforms. They were also asked about how long they spent on social media in bed, how long it took them to attempt sleep after putting their phones down, and their overall quality of sleep. The responses offered a number of fresh insights into young people’s feelings on social media and sleep. While a considerable proportion of respondents claimed not to have difficulties in disengaging from social media, the responses also showed that extended wakefulness in bed before attempts to sleep was a typical experience for many. The research can be read at: www.sciencedirect.com

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