In the extremely technologically advanced world we live in today many parents are asking themselves, how young is too young for a child or teen to own their own cell phone? Adolescence is a stressful time physically, mentally, and socially and smart phones with so much accessibility to the social world can quickly become an overwhelming habit. With the younger generation having the ability to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc (all free services); and endless conversations in chats and through text messaging, a mounting pressure may build on children to reply to every tweet or “like” every photo posted. The disruptions are much more obvious during the day, for example when teenager is in the classroom or in the evening when a child is at the dinner table completely absorbed in the phone, but what happens when they lay down for sleep? At this stage of life sleep is of the upmost importance. Recently it has been shown that cell phone usage has the ability to severely disrupt sleep which leads to many other problems including physical, mental, and emotional issues.
The constant usage of cell phones throughout the night disrupts the adolescences sleep cycle. Sleep deprivation has many severe consequences. The result of disrupted sleep can lead to serious mental illnesses such as anxiety or even depression. People with poor sleep are agitated easily and become angry and frustrated more quickly. A lack of sleep also negatively affects the immune system and breaks it down, making youngsters more susceptible to illness and/or infections. If a teenager drives, the lack of sleep impairs motor function and greatly increases the risk of motor accidents. Academically, mental focus and a child’s memory are hampered through poor sleep habits as success in the classroom often declines.
With so many negative affects parents must be thinking, “How can I prevent or stop this?”
First it is best to observe the overall sleep hygiene and sleep habits of your child. Some positive sleep hygiene habits are going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, turning off all distractions (such as television or radio) while lying in bed to rest, and not eating any snacks right before bedtime. If a parent notices a lacking of these tendencies action
may need to be taken. A cell phone can be a major distraction to one’s sleep hygiene. If a parent observes it is becoming disruptive to their child’s rest throughout the night it is best to tackle the issue early. Speaking with the child and telling them the dangers of a poor sleep cycle and the negative effects to the body and mind are recommended. If casually discussing seems to not work, then a parent may simply have to take the mobile device away from the youngster every night before they go to bed. Obviously there may be some resistance to this tactic but if necessary the adolescence’s health is the primary concern.
Sleep in regards to the young is such an important factor to development and function, and it needs to be obtained in a quiet and restorative environment. With the huge boom in technology and social networks it can be very difficult to obtain a distraction free sleep environment and parents may have to step in to ensure this is achieved. While many children and teenagers may not agree right away, it is a good bet they will be thankful later for better performance, better mood, and even an overall healthier life!