Social Media Blamed For Sleep Deprivation In Teens

Doctors are warning parents to check on their teenagers after hours, because more and more adolescents are suffering from sleep deprivation because they're up late on their phones and that could lead to major health problems.

(Published Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017)

More and more adolescents are suffering from sleep deprivation because they're up late on their phone, according to doctors, and that can lead to major health problems.

Some tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation, like yawning, in your teenagers could be signs that it's time to step in.

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"Parents should not just trust that their teens are putting these devices away and never looking at them in the middle of the night," said Dr. Dave Atkinson, medical director of the teen recovery program at Children's Health and an assistant professor at UT Southwestern.

Based on his patient trends, one of the main reason children aren't sleeping is because of smart phones and social media.

"It becomes very hard for them to let go of when they're used to getting responses from their friends up until 1 or 2 am. To miss out on that social behavior is hard, and even when they're tired, they'll still be trying to check their messages," said Atkinson.

A study out of Pittsburgh found that it only takes two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep for a changes to happen in the brain of a teenager.

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The changes affect the reward center of the brain and can lead to higher risks of depression and addiction.

"One might think because there's decreased activity in the reward system, they're going to be less likely to do rewarding activity, but it can be the opposite," he said.

He recommends parents set firm rules for their teen, like social media after 9 or 10 p.m.

If that doesn't work, he recommends turning off Wi-Fi and data to their phone.

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