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Screen time before bed - why your kids need to unplug

There are enough studies to prove the adverse effects of too much screen time on sleep. In fact, technology big-wigs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook have laid down strict rules against digital devices for their children. While it’s not possible to keep children away from screens, parents can at least restrict screen time one to two hours before bedtime so children can enjoy quality sleep.

Sleep is an integral part of a kid’s development and mental well-being. According to the National School Foundations, school-aged kids should get at least 10 hours of sleep every day while teens can do with a good 8 to 9 hours. If they don’t get enough sleep, children struggle to remember things, control their emotions, and live a full life.

Although there are other reasons, too much screen time is now on top of things that have a negative impact on sleep. Today most kids have at least one mobile device, and those who don’t have access to computers and televisions.

Since kids spend most of the day in school, the evening is the only time they have to watch TV and play games on their ipads. A 2014 review, however, shows that spending time in front of screens a few hours before bedtime can hamper quality sleep in children.

  1. Delay in going to bed
    Delaying going to bed so they can finish a game or a program they are watching is the number one reason why children should stay away from screens at night. That extra hour every night to finish the latest series accumulates to a lot of hours in a month. Without knowing it, your child has lost a whole month of sleep. Parents should put in place a screen time schedule so the kids can watch or do what they want during that time.

  2. Bright light
    Most screens emit bright blue light that causes the brain to be more alert. That light also suppresses sleep hormones, so your child takes longer to fall asleep after they put the screen down. Besides keeping screens out of the child’s bedroom, parents must also ensure kids don’t watch TV or play on their phone at least one hour before bed. This time should be spent preparing for bed with activities such as brushing teeth, reading a book, changing, and resting.

  3. Engaging content
    Whether your child is watching an exhilarating series or playing a blood-pumping game, their senses are being stimulated. The excitement of games, movies, or even chatting with someone can engage the brain and make it release adrenaline. The result is a stimulated person who will not be falling asleep any time soon. If the child was watching something scary, they will likely have nightmares that interrupt quality sleep.

  4. Mini jetlag
    Sometimes children stay up late watching something on the screens, chatting or playing a game. As a result, their circadian rhythm starts to shift, and they experience a mini case of jetlag. The child will be moody, tired, and irritable and have trouble focusing.

There are enough studies to prove the adverse effects of too much screen time on sleep. In fact, technology big-wigs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook have laid down strict rules against digital devices for their children. While it’s not possible to keep children away from screens, parents can at least restrict screen time one to two hours before bedtime so children can enjoy quality sleep.

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