Should You Take Your Child’s Phone Away At Bedtime?

Published on November 14th, 2016

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, it seems that the social media outlets available at the palm of our hands are endless. In addition to social networks, we have an entire app store of games, music apps, and video streaming services readily available on our mobile devices. While these apps allow us to connect with friends and provide us with entertainment, they may also be causing disruptions to our daily lives.

On average, children are 12.1 years of age when they receive their first mobile phone. Around 91% of teens use their phone to go online periodically throughout the day. A typical teen sends and receives at least 30 texts on an average day. So what does all of this information mean? How is this affecting the lives of children in 2016?

Children’s use of smartphones and tablets at bedtime has shown a link to poor sleep and daytime drowsiness. The JAMA Internal Medicine, pooled 20 studies involving 125,198 children ages 6 to 18. Among these children who had access to a mobile device at bedtime at least three times per week, there was an 88 percent increased risk for not getting enough rest. “Enough rest” qualified as getting at least 10 hours of rest per night for children and 9 for adolescents. 53% of these children showed increased risk for poor sleep quality. Even the act of having an unused device in the bedroom increased the risk for sleep problems.

The researchers are aware that the study had limits. All the research was observational and depended on self-reporting, which can often be unreliable. It is also possible that poor sleep habits could themselves lead to increasing use of mobile devices.

Bed Carter, senior lecturer in biostatistics at King’s College London, stated that all the studies seem to point in the same direction. He believes that the most important point is that we need a community wide strategy to empower parents so that it becomes acceptable and routine to remove children’s devices prior to their bedtime.

Sources: The New York Times and Growing Wireless

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