A comparative study of screen time, sleep duration and behavioural disturbances in urban and rural high school children

  • Suhas Chandran Department of Psychiatry, St. John's Medical College and Hospital
  • Kishor M
  • Prakrithi SN
  • Aarsha Sadar
  • Rohan Jayaram


Background: Sleep disturbance is a common but unrecognized problem in adolescents. Light emitting electronic devices negatively influence sleep quality, leading to reduced alertness, increased fatigue, compromised daytime functioning and impaired mood.

Aims: The current study aimed to assess the impact of screen viewing on sleep duration, sleep quality and behavioural disturbances in high school students.

Methods: This was a cross sectional community-based study involving sixty urban and sixty rural high school students in Karnataka, India. The Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI), Epworth Sleepiness scale (ESS), Aberrant Behaviour Checklist (ABC) were used to assess sleep quality in the past one-month, daytime drowsiness and behavioural disturbances respectively. A self-designed, semi-structured proforma was used to assess demographics, medical information, screen viewing duration, patterns and content of device use.

Results: Television use was prevalent in 95% urban and 76% rural students, and cell-phone use in 70% urban and 51.6% rural students almost every night. The total screen duration in the urban group was nearly double that of the rural group. We observed a significant positive correlation of total screen duration with weekday sleep duration, weekend catch-up sleep, PSQI, ESS and ABC scores in urban school adolescents. All behaviour subscale scores of ABC were significantly higher in the urban compared to rural group.

Conclusions: Adolescents in in both groups had sleep durations considered insufficient for age. The recommendations for healthy media use needs updating, with development of age-specific guidelines regarding the quantity and timing of electronic media.

Original Articles