Getting kids into healthy sleep patterns can be a challenge, and evidence increasingly points to screens making it a tougher job for parents. Here’s what you need to know about kids, screen time, and sleep.
Screens Keep You Up
There are two schools of thought that overlap on screens keeping you, and your kids, awake: The physical and the psychological.
The physical argues that screens tend to emit light in the bluer spectrum, which will cue your brain to think that it’s still daylight when it’s not, disrupting sleep patterns. While research is still ongoing into whether this truly matters and how much, phone manufacturers are erring on the side of caution and giving customers the option to shift their screen’s color palette to a more orange tone after a certain time of night. This might be worth considering as a general rule, as it may help maintain sleep during long trips.
The psychological, however, is much simpler and more compelling. Social media apps like Instagram and Twitter are built to keep you scrolling and scrolling, video games naturally lean into a reward structure that makes you want to play. And we’ve all felt the tug of reading just one more chapter or watching that next episode. Screen time is easier than ever to indulge in. Which is where family rules and parental control apps enter the narrative.
Managing Screens At Bedtime
Set family rules about taking screens to bed, what can be done with screens at bedtime, and when. Reading, for example, might be good for bedtime, but watching a TV show or playing a game may be too much.
With general screen time rules, set standards such as only so many episodes of a TV show per day, so much time played on games, and so on.
Be sure, when writing these rules, to discuss the rationale behind them, not just impose them unilaterally. When there’s a clear reason for the rules, they’re more likely to be followed, and understanding the spirit of a rule is important as kids get older and make their own decisions about screens.
Additionally, you can:
- Create a schedule for bedtime that you can do every day to cue the body to sleep, and leave screens out of it. It’s been shown that this will help sleep cycles, and will establish better long-term habits. Look for relaxing activities like reading, listening to calm music or podcasts, or taking a bath.
- Build a “charging nook” for all your devices where they have to stay overnight. In fact, leaving screens out of rooms, in general, is a good policy. This ensures that adults and children alike don’t spend all night staring at their phones.
- Use parental control apps to enforce bedtime schedules. Blocking certain apps, or locking phones and tablets outright after a certain time, will ensure that the rules stay in place.
Remember that you might need to relax the rules depending on certain situations. No parent is perfect, and sometimes there are disruptions.
Parental control apps can help set the rules, keep sleep patterns healthy, and limit tears and arguments at bedtime. To learn more, try it for free!