Children and teenagers need much more sleep than adults to support their mental, physical, and cognitive development. However, in the age of cell phones, tablets, and television, obtaining the recommended amount of sleep is becoming much more difficult. According to Dr. Kathleen McKie, an expert in pediatric sleep medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, “screen time vs, bedtime is SUCH an important topic.”
In recent studies, only 1/20 kids meet the recommended guidelines on sleep, found in the table below.
Obtaining these hours of sleep are crucial to development, yet 90% of people have reported they do not get this much.
The biggest factor- screen time.
The amount of time we spend on screens is clearly taking away from our sleep time. In children, this is very alarming because more than 2 hours a day of screen time is associated with poorer cognitive development.“The hours of sleep are not only crucial for cognitive development but also for proper daytime functioning, learning, and mood,” says Dr. McKie. “Not getting enough sleep can make kids feel cranky or irritable and increase hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.”
So what should you do to ensure that your child gets the proper amount of sleep?
- Remove all screens from their rooms at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Give the phones and tablets a bedtime.
- Read during the 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Let the children see that you are putting your phone and other screens to sleep as well. Live by example.
These steps may be hard to enforce at first, especially if your child is used to playing on their tablet/phone or watching tv before bed. However, these steps are necessary to promote proper cognitive development.