Turn out the lights and their mobile
DR PAUL Howard-Jones, a neuroscientist from Bristol University in the United Kingdom, is encouraging parents to apply boundaries to their children's late-night texting.
The reason for his promptings aren't related to cyber-bullying or on-line predators, but rather the effect on the child's brain, resulting in drowsiness and mood swings.
Dr Howard-Jones said staring at a bright, green screen disrupts the secretion of the hormone, melatonin, that regulates sleep.
Insomnia, excessive movement while asleep and leg pain during the night were experienced by 77.5% of the children and young adults involved in a study about late night texting, conducted by the JFK Medical Centre in New Jersey.
Research revealed that after lights were out teens sent, on average, 34 texts per night to more than three different people and this continued for up to four hours.
Constant late night cyber-contact can result in children displaying a variety of mood and cognitive problems including ADHD, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties.
Due to students displaying decreased engagement in classroom activities, following evenings of interrupted sleep, experts recommend parents take steps to limit the use of phones after bed-time.
Clinical psychologist Michael Breus, from the American Board of Sleep Medicine, promotes educating children about the affects of late night texting, as the key to overcoming the habit.
He also encourages charging phones in a separate room at night.
To assist in establishing a healthy night-time routine for children, Dr Breus recommends that an electronic curfew be put in place one hour before bed-time, allowing for:
- 20 minutes to organise items for the next day (uniform and backpack)
- 20 minutes for showering and cleaning teeth (in a dimly lit environment)
- 20 minutes for reading and talking with a parent about their day.
By proactively monitoring the use of mobile phones after bed-time we are helping our children develop habits that will assist them function to the best of their potential.