Academic Workload, Gadget Craze Keep HK Children Awake

It’s a tough time to be a kid in Hong Kong.

You are bombarded with plenty of assignments in school, you are perpetually tempted to get hold of that smartphone and add to the pressure are inconsiderate teachers and nagging parents.

It’s unfortunate that suicide incidents have spiked, and some of those involved are school-age children. While there’s no conclusive evidence on hand linking suicide and lack of sleep, the latter’s adverse impact on children is obvious, as Hong Kong children tend to sleep late, according to a survey conducted by the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association.

The survey asked 1,449 school-age children from six to 17 about their sleeping habits. It found that kids below age 11 have slept between 10 and 11pm.

BGCA executive director Lilian Law sounded the alarm saying that brains of kids aged between three and five are at their fastest-growing phase, and with lack of rest, their development can be retarded.

“It can affect their concentration as well as their emotional development. In severe cases it can hinder their intelligence and interaction with people,” Law said, as quoted by South China Morning Post.

In a Mail Online report cited by UK’s National Health Service, “New brain scans reveal sleep deprivation damages children’s brains more than previously thought”, adding that “worrying signs” were revealed by a group of children whose sleep had been restricted by four hours.

Dr Ng Yin-ming, a pediatrician by profession and the Association’s chairman, recommended that children below 11 years old should go to bed before 10pm regardless of their time to wake up the next day.

“It takes two to three hours to go into deep sleep. Growth hormones [in children] take time to peak – [starting] from 10pm with the peak at 2am – so the peak time is important,” he said.

Hyperactivity risk has also been linked to lack of sleep, said Dr Patrick Ip, an associate professor in the department of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Hong Kong.

The addictive use of gadgets have also influenced children to lose sleeping time as blue light, the wavelength emitted from screens of electronic devices such as televisions, computers, smartphones and tablet computers, can severely disrupt proper sleep patterns.

So if you’re a parent who wish to restrain a hyperactive child with a tablet or mobile device, the gesture could bring more bad than good.

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