Boston.com has an excellent story about teens who are sleeping with their phones under their pillows or near the bed so they can wake up in case a friend needs them via text.
They are “on call” in case of a break up or other emotional teen trauma. But besides becoming exhausted from not getting enough sleep, these texting teens are actually interrupting their learning cycle!!
Teenagers sent and received an average of 3,276 texts per month in the last quarter of 2010, according to the most recent statistics from the Nielsen Co.
“A Pew Research Center study from 2010 reported that more than four out of five teens with cellphones sleep with the phone on or near the bed, sometimes falling asleep with it in their hands in the middle of a conversation. Pew researchers did not ask whether the phones were on, but Amanda Lenhart, a senior research specialist, said ‘many expressed reluctance to ever turn their phones off.’ ”
“Researchers at the JFK Medical Center sleep laboratory in Edison, N.J., found in a 2010 study that teens sent an average of 33.5 e-mails and texts overnight and that their sleep was affected. A National Sleep Foundation study released this month found that almost one in five teens ages 13-18 are awakened by a phone call, text message, or e-mail at least a few nights a week.”
Michael Rich, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health, explains that it’s not just that the kids are exhausted, they are actually interfering with their learning cycle.
“Children who text late into the night do not fall asleep as well, he said, and they don’t enter the deep sleep of Stage 4 REM sleep, ‘which is crucial to moving experiences and lessons of the day from short-term into long-term memory — in other words, completing the learning process.’’”
“Anticipating texts, Rich explained, leads to a bad night’s sleep in the same way as an early morning flight or other predawn obligation. ‘You’re so focused on not screwing up your wake-up that you don’t sleep as well.’ ”
The story explains why kids text during the night:
A. It makes them feel needed and loved that someone is texting them.
B. It makes them feel less lonely.
C. But they may also feel pressure to answer. Researchers found some teens were angry with their friends when they didn’t respond back immediately.
What’s interesting is that according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that “relatively few 7th-12th graders say their parents have established any rules about talking or texting on a cell phone.’’
Parents may not realize that letting their kids have their cell phone with them in their rooms at night can cause this many problems but the good news is I think the solution is very easy.
Parents just have to take the phones away at night. The phones stay downstairs or in the parents’ room (depending on if your kid would sneak it upstairs after you went to bed). Friends are told my family has a rule no texting after 10 and my phone is taken away for the night. (The article said it’s easier for teens to say it’s a family rule and blame their parents, than for them to say “I need my sleep! Leave me alone!”)
We had a rule in high school no calling after 10 p.m. and that was just the rule. If your friend called you were told, no calling after 10 p.m.
If the teens don’t want to comply by your cell phone rules then they don’t get the phone at all. (I’m pretty sure they’ll agree to the new nighttime rules.)
What do you think: Are you teens sleeping near or with their phones? Are they texting during the night? Are they semi-asleep on call waiting for their phone to vibrate? Are they not finishing their learning cycle, transferring their knowledge from short term to long term memory? Are they sleeping through classes or getting sick because they are so worn out by being “on call?” Are you surprised by how much damage this can cause?
– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania