Washington: Parents please take note. Allowing young children watch violent programmes, especially after 7pm, may hinder their sleep, a new study has suggested.
       
The study by researchers from the Seattle Children's Research Institute in the US found that watching TV programmes during the day that depict violence was associated with increased sleep problems in children aged three to five years.
       
It's also found that watching television after 7:00 pm was linked with increased sleep problems, regardless of whether the shows were violent or not.
       
The findings add to a growing body of research that children's media use can disrupt their sleep. It's concerning, because sleep troubles early in life may increase the risk of problems later on, including obesity and failure at school, the researchers said.
       
Most of the violent content the children watched was actually children programming, said study researcher Michelle Garrison. "It's just children's programming that's really more appropriate for 7 to 12 year-old children than it is for 3 to
5 year-olds," Garrison said.
       
For the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers surveyed the parents of about 600 kids aged between three to five years.
       
Parents were asked how often their kids experienced sleep problems, including trouble falling sleep, nightmares, difficulty waking up or feeling tired during the day.
       
They also kept a diary of their child's TV viewing habits over one week and tracked when their children watched TV, how much they watched, what the programme was and whether the program was viewed with an adult.
       
It was found that more TV that children watched in the evening, and the more violent content they watched during the day, the more likely they were to experience sleep problems.

It didn't matter whether the violent programs were animated or live-action, or whether the kids were watching the shows with their parents, the researchers said.
       
Since the findings are based on parents' reports of their child's TV watching, it's likely the parents underestimated how much time their kids' watched TV and how much violent TV they watched, the researchers said.
       
Doctors should advise parents to limit late-night TV time and violent programmes in general for their kids, they suggested. Such rules, they added, may be more achievable today than prohibiting TV altogether for young kids.
       
The finding "makes very good sense", said Dr Neena Malik, a child psychologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine who was not involved with the study.
       
Young children may not understand the difference between what's real and not real, Malik said. When this happens, "what you see is going to feel real to you, and it's going to scare you," she said.

(Agencies)