“Exhausted” schoolchildren are surviving on just two hours of sleep because of their mobile phone addiction, according to new research.
The study by Leeds Beckett University examined the mobile phone use of 594 students aged 11-18 across the country, and found that most regularly check their phones during family meals, while doing homework and during school lessons.
A total of 96 per cent said they check their phones every two minutes, while 85 per cent spend between four and six hours a day online.
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Meanwhile, two-thirds said they are getting between two and four hours of sleep a night because of their "addiction" to mobile phones.
Professor Jonathan Glazzard, of the university’s Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, said adolescents were “desperate to network” and keep up to date with their online peers.
He said: “This results in broken sleep and tiredness during the school day.
“Adolescents need approximately eight-to-10 hours' sleep, but our research demonstrates that some get as little as two hours of sleep.
“These students attend school in a state of exhaustion. They are too tired to concentrate, and it affects their learning and behaviour.
“Disengagement in lessons results in them falling behind in their schoolwork and they then develop other problems, such as low confidence and low self-worth."
The survey was distributed nationally to senior leaders in schools and colleges that work in partnership with the university’s teacher-training programme.
It found that so-called “technoference” increased with age, with older students admitting that they are more likely to be distracted by their devices, yet there was no significant differences by gender.
One 13-year-old said: “If I am not online with my friends, I worry that they will not want to be my friend anymore. They want me to ‘like’ their posts and if I am not online I might forget to do this.”
A 17-year-old said: “I sometimes find conversations boring at home. It is more interesting to talk to my friends.”
Prof Glazzard said parents could play “a critical role” in supporting young people to develop positive habits by setting boundaries.
He said: “Examples of boundaries might include restricting access to technology in bedrooms and at mealtimes.
“Also, parents need to be good role models by ensuring that they do not allow technology to interrupt conversations and other daily experiences.”
Teachers have also been surveyed with one reporting that pupils were known to have walked out of lessons to take calls from their parents.
Researcher Samuel Stones, a senior teacher at Norton College in North Yorkshire, said: “The brain is malleable. It is responsive to environmental influences, and lack of exposure to language can impact on phonological and phonemic awareness. Both of these skills play a critical role in reading development.”
The pupil survey includes the following findings:
- 92 per cent regularly check their phones during the night.
- 67 per cent get between 2 and 4 hours' sleep due to checking their phones.
- 85 per cent regularly check their phones during family meals.
- 97 per cent regularly check their phones while doing their homework.
- 70 per cent discretely check their phones during lesson time.
- 98 per cent would find it difficult to cope if they had their phone confiscated.