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Kids check mobiles during night: UK study

Press Association logoPress Association 5/10/2016

Children as young as nine are so dependent on their mobile phones that they check their devices repeatedly throughout the night because of the "fear of missing out", UK researchers have found.

Pupils said they risked turning up for school tired and unable to concentrate due to the notifications from their mobile devices while they were in bed, with one-tenth of those polled checking their phones at least 10 times a night.

The study into children's technology usage - the first of its kind involving English state and private school pupils at night time - found almost half of 11 to 18-year-olds admitted checking social media accounts such as Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube when they should be sleeping.

But Digital Awareness UK (DAUK), who worked on the survey with the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), said they found anecdotal evidence from classrooms of children as young as nine checking their phones at least 10 times a night.

Asked about the phenomenon of the fear of missing out - typically referred to as "FOMO" on social media - Charlotte Robertson, DAUK co-founder, said: "The youngest (child checking their devices at least 10 times a night) is about nine, and many parents are very unaware of it.

"One of the biggest topics around at the moment is excessive social media consumption and how it is affecting our physical and emotional well-being.

"A lot of them are waking up sometimes with over 100 notifications from conversations that have happened overnight.

"They want to be that person that is responding at 1am, and seen to be quite cool, to make sure they catch the joke - it's a huge driver, that anxiety of wanting to know what's happened."

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