How Technology Impacts Sleep For Your Child
How do technology and sleep go together and should they? Great question! We think of them as needing to be separate in order to be successful. For example, if we want our kids to get a good night’s sleep, we need to take devices away. Well, there is a way to have success with both. Technology does impact a child’s sleep in many ways. But parents can take control of technology and sleep for a more peaceful home.
First, let’s look at the importance of sleep for your child. Then, we will talk about technology safety. Last, but not least, we will then merge the two and find out how to make both successful.
Did you know that a child needs at least 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night? That seems like so much! During sleep, the brain sorts through and stores a lot of information. It also replaces chemicals and solves problems while you sleep. Not every kid needs the same amount of sleep and some need more than others. Sleep is just as important as food, drink and safety.
Affects of not enough sleep
When a child does not get enough sleep there are many ways it impacts them throughout the day. For example, they have a harder time focusing or concentrating on tasks. This means that in school and at home they may need more time to complete tasks or learn skills being taught. They may be moody or cranky. It can also affect their growth and ability to fight off germs and viruses. Sleep is critical in allowing children to develop and function properly and successfully.
Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
Studies have shown that kids who get a good night’s sleep have improved overall mental and physical health. Sleep does impact your child.
- Increases brain power
- Increases staying on task or paying attention
- Learn new information
- Have better problem-solving abilities
- Are better able to make positive decisions
- Have more energy throughout the day
- Can create and maintain good relationships with peers
- Ages 5-10 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep
- Ages 6- 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep
- 14-18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep
Tips to help your child get a good night’s sleep
Helping your child get a good night’s sleep is the responsibility of the parent. I know it is not easy all the time, but it is so beneficial for the entire family because when a child does not sleep well it does affect the entire family. Here are some things that can be done to help your child:
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Provide a healthy diet
- Have approximately the same time for bedtime each night
- Dim the lights
- Use music, or white noise
- Essential oils can help relaxation
- Stop the use of electronics at least an hour before bedtime
- Be organized with what pj’s will be worn
- Read before bed
Technology Safety and Sleeping
Children are considered digital natives. Technology has been part of their everyday life since they were very young. Children between 8 and 18 averagely spend about 53 hours a week with media and technology. As a result, it is important to teach our kids how to make good decisions when it comes to technology.
So, this means learning when to use it and how to use it. It is very easy for a child to stay up all night on a device without their parent even knowing. Yes, this does happen! And it happens more frequently than parents know about. These are the times when cyber bullying, sexting, compromised privacy and the risk of exposure to bad things occur.
Having restrictions and expectations for when to use and how to use technology will benefit everyone in the family.
Tips for Parents
There is a lot of information and tips on how to provide safety for your child when it comes to technology. One of these is Common Sense Media. That site provides tips, videos, and resources that help parents keep their children safe. It is also important for parents to model positive behavior and set good examples. A few tips that parents can use at home:
- Keep the computer in a high-traffic area.
- Establish limits for which online sites children may visit. Include limits on how long kids can use devices, the kinds of devices they can use, and the types of activities or programs they can choose. Be specific and continually check.
- Have and share expectations. Continually dialogue with your children about online safety.
- Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
- Know who is connecting with your children online. Set rules for social networking, instant messaging, e-mailing, online gaming, and using webcams.
- Find out what they like to watch, introduce new shows and apps for them to try based on their age and interests.
- Learn about parent controls with the device.
Guidelines on Screen Time
These are recommended for parents and caregivers:
- Under 18 months: Avoid screen time other than video-chatting like Facetime or Zoom.
- Age 18–24 months: Find high-quality programming appropriate for that age group and watch or play together.
- Age 2–5: Limit screen use to one hour per day of appropriate programs.
- Ages 6 and older: This depends on what they are using it for and is based on each individual. No more than 2 hours per night at the maximum.
3 Things to Ask
As parents, these are three things to ask yourself: What are your kids doing on their device. How much time they spend doing it? And, are their content choices age appropriate?
By continuing to ask these questions and having expectations of what they are playing/watching, how often and when you will be providing your child with some good tools for their future. The reality is that most families will go through periods of heavy and light screen use, but as long as there’s a balance and parent input, kids will learn how to use technology in a positive way. Get kids’ input so the plan teaches critical thinking skills and self-regulation.
Technology and Sleep
How do they go hand in hand? Great question! Technology impacts sleep for many children. I am always amazed by many parents are unaware of the amount of time their child spends on their device.
When a child uses their device before bed they are overexposed to a feature called blue light. This blue light can make it more difficult to fall asleep. The bright light from the device or television blocks the release of the hormone, melatonin. This is the hormone in the brain that signals it is time to sleep. The blue or bright light causes brain waves to be more alert and make it difficult to fall asleep.
So here are some tips in how to support your child in learning the benefits of having both.
- Stop using all devices at least an hour before bedtime.
- Remove all devices from your child’s bedroom.
- Stop watching television or videos at least an hour before bedtime.
- Maintain consistent habits for a bedtime routine.
- Do not have a television in your child’s bedroom.
The lack of sleep disrupts a child’s night time, but also disrupts their day. It makes them less alert, attentive, unable to concentrate and more impulsive. As parents it is our responsibility to ensure that our children have a good night’s sleep by providing the tools to make it happen and ensuring that children are safe when using devices. Both of these will promote positive mental and physical health for children.
Has your family solved the problem of sleep and devices? Share what you have done our FB Group.