Cell Phones. Again.


Look, I hate cell phones as much as the next guy, but a new study blaming cell use for sleepy teen-agers is a bit much. Have these all-night phone phreaks no parents? Evidently not:

Computers, cell phones, televisions and video games all keep those who should be asleep wide awake, said Jodi A. Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and coauthor of the study. As a result, more than a quarter of high school students fall asleep in school at least once a week. Fourteen percent don't make it on time—if at all.

At fault is not just teenagers' altered circadian rhythm but the number of distractions keeping them up at night, according to a two-month poll of 1,602 caregivers and their children in grades six through 12.

Nearly all the children surveyed had one gadget in their bedrooms, but by 12th grade, 39 percent had more than four electronic items there, the study found.

"Those with four or more electronic devices in their bedroom were twice as likely to fall asleep in school," said Mindell, cochair of the National Sleep Foundation task force that conducted the poll.

These "electronic devices"—jeepers!—are not materially different than the old flashlight and comic book trick. Powered or unpowered, a distraction is a distraction.