If you’ve ever worked in a school, you know how sleepy some teens are. Why is that? Why aren’t they sleeping well when they are supposed to be sleeping? Well, there are some factors but one of them is probably social media. Scientists at the University of Glasgow have now developed a tool to measure social media impact on teens’ sleep.
Index of Nighttime Offline Distress, or iNOD, is basically a psychological measurement tool, which reflects the realities of how young people interact with each other in an online world. You probably know that too much social media is not good for you. First of all, it is fully associated with blue screens, which can damage your sleep cycles. Secondly, this experience can be stressful, depending on what kind of media is consumed. Thirdly, an information overload can be distressing and distracting from sleep.
Scientists consulted with more than 3,000 young people and developed a 10-point questionnaire, which could help clinicians, teachers and parents to understand the impact social media has on a teenager’s sleep. Scientists created iNOD after noticing how many parents and teachers are worried about the time young people tend to spend on social media. In fact, this kind of behaviour is described as addiction in many cases. Of course, social media and smartphones have their place in our lives. They are particularly important for teenagers, because that is how they develop friendships that may last for a lifetime. This is how people socialize nowadays. But a good sleep at night is also very important.
Researchers noticed that young people who spent more time on social media had more trouble falling asleep. They also had worse quality and shorter duration of sleep. On the other hand, a significant portion of teenagers claimed that social media had no impact on their sleep quality.
Dr Holly Scott, lead author of the paper, said: “In developing iNOD, we set out to create a measurement system which was built from the ground up to reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of modern young people. The aim is to get a truer sense of the trade-offs young people make between social connections and night-time social media use, and to draw a clearer demarcation of the points where it can begin to impact on young people’s sleep.”
Scientists will have to explore further how the iNOD could work. It could help young people to assess themselves and diagnose the reasons why they are not getting good sleep. It would also be particularly useful for teachers and parents. Cutting out all the social media would be easy, but it would have negative effects as well. Seeing if it is actually harmful would be way better. iNOD could be one of the useful tools to do it with.
Source: University of Glasgow