An excerpt from The Economist's article on bedtime regime's correlation with IQ scores.
Here I've committed two kinds of mismatches, putting THE before the second mention of "interviewers" and using THE before both instances of "children" which in the original text have zero articles. Below I'll try to explain how I see the newspaper's article usage choices.
The bedtime information they used was collected during four visits interviewers made to the homes of those participating in the study. These happened when the children were nine months, three years, five years and seven years of age. Besides asking whether the children had set bedtimes on weekdays and if they always, usually, sometimes or never made them, interviewers collected information about family routines, economic circumstances and other matters—including whether children were read to before they went to sleep and whether they had a television in their bedroom. The children in question were also asked, at the ages of three, five and seven, to take standardised reading, mathematical and spatial-awareness tests, from which their IQs could be estimated.
Dr Kelly’s report, just published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, shows that by the time children had reached the age of seven, not having had a regular bedtime did seem to affect their cognition ...
"Interviewers" seem to take zero articles because they could've been different persons each time, since information gathering took 7 years. An almost generic reference.
The first use of the zero article (Ø) with "children" is aimed at omitting repetition in lookalike structures "whether X had .." in one sentence.
The second use of "Ø children" seems to comply with snailboat's comprehensive answer to my previous question. In the text's shared conceptual space, "children" means not all kids generically but those taking part in the study. Using THE would make it seem (to a native speaker), in combination with "not having had", that they all suffered (or enjoyed) irregular bedtime regimes. Using the zero article would put "children" in "specific indefinite" reference, and the combination with "not having had" would now be comprehended as "some had regular, some irregular bedtimes".
Am I right?