It’s almost time to tuck your little ones in and tell your older kids to turn off the PlayStation and get ready for bed. The older kids turn off the television, brush their teeth, then lay in bed catching up on their friend’s Snapchat stories. Your younger ones watch videos on a tablet or play just one more turn of the newest mobile game before they finally put their device down and attempt to sleep.
Is this modern bedtime ritual harming your child’s quality of sleep? It’s already been concluded that reading from screens before bed disrupts sleep (hence the iPhone’s recent addition of “Night Shift,”) but now, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers have found screen time before bed is worse for children than adults due to their continuing development.
The study found that because children’s eyes are still developing, they are more sensitive to the bright light of screens, disrupting their biological clock more so than adults. The light suppresses melatonin, delaying sleepiness. Authors of the study found that children who have accessible technology in their bedrooms not only delay their bedtimes but also report lower quality of sleep.
It might be hard at first, but limiting your children’s’ use of screen time before bed will benefit them in the long run. Give them some alternative bedtime routines and create a charging station outside of their rooms in a common area where they can be asked to leave their phones before turning in for the night.
The authors of the study recommend removing all forms of technology from children’s rooms to discourage use of it before sleep (computers, tablets, video games, etc.) and to instead encourage children to participate in calming activities before bed.
In replace of screens, children can read a book or journal about their day as an end of the night activity. Reading from a book will tire them quicker than reading from a screen and journaling will give them needed reflection about their day that was previously lost when playing mobile games or scanning Instagram before bed. Other activities kids can replace screen time with include coloring, puzzles, a family walk, or even a nighttime yoga routine. Check out our Parenting Pinterest board for more ideas. Your children may not be happy with this new screen time limit, but as with most acts of parenting, they will thank you later.
Don’t forget to implement the same “no screen time before bed” rule for the adults in your house. It will serve as a better example for your kids if everyone in the house nixes technology use before bed. Plus, if anyone needs a better night sleep, it’s Mom and Dad!