Parents, don’t let your babies grow up to be sleep texters

Elizabeth Dowdell and Brett Frischmann on the rules and boundaries parents need to have as we think about screens and sleep habits.

Helping children to get a better night’s sleep is a nearly universal parenting goal that now includes managing technology. At night, most parents would never tuck in their baby or toddler with a smartphone on their chest. Nevertheless, as children become more connected it is getting harder for them to disengage and settle down for sleep.

Dowdell and Frischmann share insights from research as it relates to screens, stress, and children’s behaviors.

  • Children using electronic media as a sleep aid to relax at night have later weekday bedtimes, experience fewer hours of sleep per week and report more daytime sleepiness.
  • Adolescents with a bedroom television have later bedtimes, more difficulty initiating sleep and shorter total sleep times.
  • Texting and emailing after lights outs, even once per week, dramatically increases self-reported daytime sleepiness among adolescents.
  • The burden of homework is great for many of our children and their work is often completed on the computer, a significant light source late in the evening.


Cover image CC (BY-NC-ND) “sleep” flickr photo by masha_k_sh

About the author

Ian O'Byrne

Dr. W. Ian O’Byrne is a educator, researcher, & speaker. His work centers on teaching, learning, and technology. He investigates the literacy practices of individuals as they read, write, and communicate in online & hybrid spaces.

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