A study from Australian researchers examined the impact violent games have on the time it takes kids to fall asleep.
13 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age, who typically fell asleep in less than 15 minutes were wired with electrodes while in bed and were asked to either play Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, or watch a documentary (March of the Penguins) for 50 minutes before attempting to go to sleep, according to a US News & World Report summation.
The 50 minute time limit was chosen as “it is the maximum amount of continuous play recommended by game marketer Sony Corp.”
Eleven teens took longer to fall asleep after playing the video game than after watching the documentary, while two fell asleep faster. Four teens actually fell asleep during the documentary, a slow-moving and tranquil movie that was chosen to provide contrast to the frenetic video game.
Overall, the median time it took to fall asleep for those playing COD4 was 7.5 minutes, versus 3.0 minutes for those watching the movie. The study concluded that, “Results suggest the direct effect of presleep video-game playing on adolescent sleep may be more modest than previously thought, suggesting that surveys linking stimulating presleep activities to poor sleep need substantiating with empirical evidence.”
Michael Gradisar, a Child Psychology Professor at Flinders University, and lead researcher of the study, noted, “Despite finding that they were mentally stimulated playing the video game, I believe the 'dose' of 50 minutes was too low to have any major ramifications on their sleep,” though he added, “Being limited to 50 minutes didn't allow the teens to become emotionally invested in the video game.”
Grand Theft Childhood co-author Cheryl Olson said about the study, “These results are a bit surprising, in that a stimulating activity right before bedtime did not alter teens' established sleep patterns. This is good news for parents.”
Olson also noted, however, the study’s “tightly controlled conditions.”
Full results will be published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.