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How do screens -- such as TV and smartphones -- affect my kids’ sleep?

While the connection between poor sleep and bedroom TVs is well-established, the effect of small screens -- smartphones, iPods, tablets, or other small-screen devices -- on kids' sleep hasn't been studied until recently. A report released in 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that they're just as worrisome – but for different reasons than TVs. 

Television’s glare and audio volume obviously robs kids of sleep, but a small screen can inhibit sleep in other ways: by occupying kids when they should be sleeping, keeping their brains and bodies alert with interactivity, throwing off their natural sleep rhythm, and interrupting sleep with notifications. In the study, kids reported not sleeping as well and feeling as though they didn't get enough rest when they snoozed near a small screen.

A lot of attention has been paid to the issue of blue light -- the high-energy, short-wavelength light that's present in sunlight but hyper-concentrated in device displays. Blue light interferes with our natural sleep rhythms and researchers are examining how much device use late at night impacts kids' sleep due to blue light specifically. Some say a lot, some say a little. But most experts agree that regardless of the blue light, devices cause sleep disruption just by being present in the room where you're trying to sleep.

Evidence is mounting that a longer duration of sleep is actually more important for teens than little kids, due to the physical and cognitive growth spurts in this phase of development. Staying up too late can make kids cranky -- but there are real health risks, too. Obesity, poor school performance, even behavioral problems can stem from inadequate sleep. Parents of tweens and teens need to really double down on making sure everyone is getting enough sleep -- and that often means grappling with device use, which keeps everyone up later. Unfortunately, even though we know we should stricter about kids' device use and our own and maintaining consistent, device-free, bedtime routines, we're slacking. If you're not familiar with the recommended daily amount of sleep for each age, it's sobering to read the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines.

Having good "sleep hygiene" is critical to overall well-being, and it's something parents should do their best to model . It's not always possible to clear the bedroom of all screens -- but instruct your kids to turn them off, download apps that disable the device at bedtime, and charge devices in your room at night to help your kids get the rest they need. And of course, make sure you're getting the sleep you need, too. Your kids will pick up on your habits (and you'll rest better, too).

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Teen, 15 years old written by Sending out the...

This isn’t science based or anything just my experience and some facts I’ve learned. So tv screens don’t rlly affect sleeping. Sometimes if I’m anxious and stuff going on my phone does affect my sleeping. But I think that’s because in my head I’m like- Oh now I won’t be able to sleep because of my phone. Most times when I’m on my phone before going to bed I’m able to sleep fine- like 30 minutes after turning off the lights. When I was younger, screens didn’t rlly affect me either but I didn’t rlly use them anyways. I feel like maybe the blue light thing is bad when u have full brightness and in a dark room. Oh forgot to mention I have that thing that makes the screen warm after 8 o’clock. I would recommend tho, because every kid is different, to make younger kids put away their ipads an hour before their bed time
Teen, 15 years old written by Theorca

I find that being on my device before going to sleep only affects me if I go directly from being on a device to sleeping. If you put time between being on media and sleep (like 30 mins+) your body can focus on sleeping. I find taking a shower or doing some push ups helps a lot.
Teen, 16 years old written by Lolcats

Given that it’s 3 am and I’m writing this on my phone I would say it keeps me up but there’s not much of a negative impact. I’ve got nothing better to do
Teen, 13 years old written by RLUnicorns

I think it really does. Blue light emitted from electronics, especially smartphones, tricks our brains into thinking its daytime and keeps us awake. Because of this, I think electronics should be Ben turned off an hour before bed at least.
Teen, 13 years old written by Itsnottrue

No, while some kids may find it harder to sleep, most people can sleep after 30 minutes, to 1 hour of replacement from screen time. And kids don't automatically have terrible grades because of sleep loss. Being a A+ student that barely sleeps because of other reasons(ADHD) I almost never drop in grades besides music. I think people are just over exaggerating screen time effects. .
Kid, 12 years old

I am up till 11:15 on school nights because of my phone. And when I get in trouble and my mom takes away my phone I use my laptop. And when I get in big trouble she takes away both. Yet I’m so bad that I have yet another tablet that she doesn’t know about and stay up till 11:15. When my mom takes away my phone she goes to cvs and buys me a burner until I get it back cause she still needs to call and text me. There is no escape from electronic devices and we all know it. If you take it away the kids will find another way. When I was 8 I would sneak downstairs and steal my moms phone and stay up till 10:30 watching. It does affect sleep and I try to get like at least 8 hours per night
Kid, 10 years old

I usually am up on my iPad at night, right now it's 9:20 pm, and I get horrible sleep.
Teen, 14 years old written by Subakyoki

The only time I really let my device intirupt my sleep is on the weekends, other than that I'm always in bed by 10-10:30
Teen, 13 years old written by savannah17151

on school nights i stay up in till 930 or 950 so my mom and dad take my phone out of my room at 915 then i watch tv in my room for 5-15 minutes it is not a problem for me
Teen, 17 years old written by JR_71

I wouldn't say it's the screen keeping them up, it's more of the fact that it's there. The best thing to do is just not look at it, forget it's there.
Kid, 12 years old

Well staying too late is a different matter than TV and Smartphones because it is general so you should just make sure they have a bedtime if you are worried about that. I am on the computer/screen around 5-9 hours a day (I'm not joking either) and I don't have an effect on sleep, I also normally fall alseep to the TV and it helps me fall asleep because I hear it in the background.
Teen, 15 years old written by xxsidsidxx

Yes as long as they can reach it at night and have a charger it really does effect there sleep Most likely while your in your room they are spending countless hours doing stuff you may not approve depends on age
Teen, 13 years old written by OliRan321

This is so true, I hate to admit it but sometimes I get so caught up watching YouTube that I stay up until 4:00 am on a school night. But I need to have my phone next to my bed because I use it as an alarm. Please don't let this happen to your kids.