A Turkish doctor warned Friday that an increase in screen time among children during the coronavirus pandemic is negatively affecting their sleep pattern and quality.

“Digital habits cause serious problems in sleep duration and sleep latency, which is much more important especially in childhood,” Vural Fidan, head of the Sleep Society of Turkey (TUTDER), told Anadolu Agency.

Fidan also said it causes problems in hormones that maintain the balance of the body, especially the growth hormone released during sleep.

When parents increased their screen time, he said, children too began spending more time on mobile phones and tablets. ​​​​​​​This increased even in children under two years.

In order to protect children from these harmful effects on their mental and physical growth, he advised parents to read books to their children.

Children should be especially kept away from screens at night to promote quality sleep, he added.

Since it originated in China in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 1.89 million lives in 191 countries and regions.

More than 89.07 million cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 49.10 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

To curb its spread, many countries have enforced lockdowns and curfews and closed schools leading to prolonged hours in the house.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.