Violent cartoons linked to sleep problems in preschoolers

ABC News reports, “Swapping out Batman for Big Bird could help young kids sleep better, a new study found.”

USA Today reports, “Changing the type of DVDs, videos and TV shows that preschoolers watch during the day may help them sleep better at night,” according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

“A program that encouraged parents of kids ages three to five to replace age-inappropriate media content with more suitable programming found ‘long-lasting, significant reductions in sleep problems, says Michelle Garrison of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, lead author of the study.”

“Content that’s funny for older kids can be too violent for really young children,” Garrison said, adding that even Bugs Bunny is “too much” for kids younger than 6. “We really don’t want them exposed to any violence at all.”

Previous studies in children have linked violent videos to disrupted sleep, raising the risk of behavioral and emotional problems. To test whether reducing exposure to violent media could improve sleep, Garrison and colleagues ran a clinical trial.

Their findings? “A yearlong intervention that encouraged educational and child-suitable media viewing was associated with a lower likelihood of children having ‘any sleep problem’ (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.83, P=0.02),” MedPage Today reports.

“The effect size of the intervention was similar through the duration of the” 535-family “study, with differences in sleep scores between the intervention and control groups of −0.16 (95% CI −0.35 to 0.02) at 6 months and −0.14 (95% CI −0.31 to 0.02) at one year, the researchers reported.”

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