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Broadband Internet, Digital Temptations, and Sleep

SOEPpapers 934, 11 S.

Francesco C. Billari, Osea Giuntella, Luca Stella


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There is a growing concern that the widespread use of computers, mobile phones and other digital devices before bedtime disrupts our sleep with detrimental effects on our health and cognitive performance. High-speed Internet promotes the use of electronic devices, video games and Internet addiction (e.g., online games and cyberloafing). Exposure to artificial light from tablets and PCs can alterate individuals’ sleep patterns. However, there is little empirical evidence on the causal relationship between technology use near bedtime and sleep. This paper studies the causal effects of access to high-speed Internet on sleep. We first show that playing video games, using PC or smartphones, watching TV or movies are correlated with shorter sleep duration. Second, we exploit historical differences in pre-existing telephone infrastructure that affected the deployment of high-speed Internet across Germany (see Falck et al., 2014) to identify a source of plausibly exogenous variation in access to Broadband. Using this instrumental variable strategy, we find that DSL access reduces sleep duration and sleep satisfaction.

JEL-Classification: I1;J22
Keywords: Internet, Sleep Duration, Time use
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)