Why should I take away my child's cell phone at night?

Janice K. Hillman, MD

There are both physical and psychological reasons to put phone away at night. Sleeping with the phone can cause sleep deprivation, which can affect memory and concentration, can cause irritability and mood swings and if prolonged, can affect immune system. The psychological reasons to put the phone away are: 1) to help set proper boundaries for others to respect your privacy and needs – you don’t have to be available 24/7 and 2) to help the teen to be more independent – the constant input of twitter, texting, social media is distracting and does not let the teen form his or her own opinion.

Research supports the notion that cell phones need to be out of sight and powered off during the night to ensure a good night’s rest.  According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, about 1 in 10 teens say they're awakened nearly every night by a phone call, text message or e-mail.  And one in five teens and young adults said they have their sleep disrupted by noisy devices a few nights a week. 

Cells are interfering with kids sleep patterns and they’re causing a new phenomenon call “sleep texting”.  So, what is sleep texting?  It’s the sending of jumbled texts while asleep and many have no recollection of even texting when they wake up! How does this happen? Imagine being in a deep sleep and your phone vibrates on your night stand. You awaken half way but are still in between dreamland and reality. You look at the screen and see a message and start typing back but rather than a coherent message you just hit random keys and what you end up sending is a jumbled mess. You hit send and voila, you've just sleep texted. This type of texting can lead to some major social consequences, especially if you accidentally send something that you shouldn't to the wrong person. 

Want to help your teen get a good night's rest and possibly prevent a social catastrophe? Make sure they're not sleeping with their cell phone. It's important to teach your teen to leave the phone and other electronic devices outside the bedroom and turn them off. Keep the chargers away from the bed or preferably outside the bedroom. Research suggests that people should stop using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. The artificial light exposure at night suppresses the release of melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone) and increases our alertness, which wires us up and makes us feel less drowsy.  So want some good zzz's then "power off" a least an hour before bed.  Plus, with sleep texting what are you going to get at 2:00am that can't wait until the next day? 


National Sleep Foundation:


Michele Borba
One solution to help kids get a good night's sleep for a better school day is to take away your kids' cell phones during nighttime hours. Sixty two percent of kids admit they text or talk after the lights go out and their parents are clueless.

Kids who get enough sleep are not only more likely to function better and are less likely to be moody or act out.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.