Are video games and cellphones to blame for teenage insomnia?

Could late night video game sessions and cell phone use be responsible for problems in teenagers like mood disorders, learning problems and insomnia?

The link between technology and health problems like these was explored by Dr. Peter Polos, who presented his findings to an annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Vancouver this week. Polos, of the JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., works with adolescents who have sleep problems. In that capacity, he’s been studying bedtime habits of teenagers, and found a “staggering” amount of technology use in the 10 minutes before bed.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Indeed, he found that in the 10 minutes to four hours before kids fell asleep, they received an average of 3,404 texts and/ or e-mails per month.

Boys were more likely to surf the Internet and play online games while girls talked on their cellphones and texted, according to the study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, attended by nearly 5,000 doctors.

Polos concedes electronic devices may either be causing insomnia or may be something kids do because they can’t fall asleep, or both.

“It’s safe to say that if you are an insomniac, the last thing you should be doing is texting or going on the computer to play games late at night.”

Polos also spoke about how as children get older, their likelihood of using technology increases substantially.

Not knowing if technology is causing insomnia or if it’s the other way around gives us a classic chicken-and-the-egg problem. Either way, it certainly warrants further study, especially since insomnia is amongst adolescents.