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Adolescents, Devices and Sleep

by Jul 17, 2018


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As a mom, I see the effects of lost hours of sleep on my teen age daughter. It goes beyond difficulty waking her in the morning. She will be irritable, quicker to snap at her dad and I, have difficulty focusing, and with this, homework and studying take A LOT longer for her to complete.

Consequences of Loss of Sleep

Loss of sleep is not just about being cranky the next day or having trouble staying awake in class. Kids that miss out on the sleep they need are at risk for a wide range of issues including chronic tardiness, lower grades, car accidents, and depression.

It’s true that as children get older, they need less sleep, but even teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is a necessary part of brain development. The teen brain is developing that frontal cortex which handles complex tasks and helps us understand consequences.

There are a number of reasons that sleep schedules for adolescents become erratic. The demands on their time such as extracurricular activities, after-school sports, part-time jobs (as they get older), homework and socializing. All of these cut into their downtime, and sleep time.

Mobile Devices As Culprit

But there is another culprit out there that has had an increasing impact on the amount of sleep that kids are getting – the increasing use of mobile devices. There is no doubt that mobile device technology has brought a positive impacts on our day-to-day lives. But with those, come negative impacts as well.

A number of studies over the past several years link mobile device usage among adolescents to the decease in the amount of sleep they are getting. A study from San Diego State University found the reduction in sleep among adolescents began to decline as device usage increased. A Penn State Hershey Medical Center study linked the loss of sleep to child obesity.

What Parents Can Do To Help

So what can we as parents do to help our kids get the sleep they need?

  • Keep them to the same sleep schedule on school days and on the weekends. Staying up late on the weekend can have a negative affect through the following Wednesday. Even during holiday school breaks when the temptation may be to stay up late, they benefit from a consistent bedtime.
  • Create a tech-free bedroom. Have cell phones and other mobile devices outside the bedrooms at night, preferably in a centrally located area of the house where parents can silence them, if necessary. We have a charging station on the kitchen peninsula which is where our daughter’s phone and tablet stay at night.
  • Check out our Reviews page to discover and purchase a Parental Control app to limit the hours your child has access to their phone. We get a lot less grief from our daughter because she knows that she has an allotted amount of time per day and access to her devices goes off at a specific times on school days and weekends.
  • Limit their device usage in the hour before bedtime. And make sure your kids’ devices are set to at nighttime mode to reduce the blue light which is responsible for sleeplessness. If you need help with settings, view one of our “The Basics” Tutorials for assistance.
  • Be a good role model. Do you go to bed with your device? There are apps that can help wean you off the habit of being constantly connected. Visit our Reviews page to learn about apps such as Moment and Lilspace.