There is a growing body of evidence linking technology use late at night and negative mental health outcomes for both adults and young people.
A recent Australian Research Council study indicated that 75% of Year 8s, and 78% of Year 11s, are using their phones well into the night. Six years ago, this figure sat at around 15 percent. Clearly this is a negative trend.
Sleep disorders for children under 14 have tripled over the past ten years and in 2015, Glasgow University’s study of social media usage found that engaging with social media at night damages sleep and increases depression and anxiety.
In adition, researchers have found that sleep deprivation of just an hour per night on a regular basis may reduce academic cognitive performance by up to two full years.
Queensland’s Griffith and Victoria’s Murdoch University researchers recently tracked late night usage of mobile phones over three years in a large sample of Australian teens and found this was directly associated with poor sleep quality, poorer mental health outcomes, reduced coping and lower self-esteem.
This represents only a sample of the compelling evidence around the harm from teenagers’ usage of technology late into the night.
An article on screen time on the Understanding Teenagers website gives practical advice around how to realistically manage this challenge with your children.
The article establishes six recommendations regarding managing screen time at home.
All children and families are different, so feel free to adjust this to suit your situation.
- No TV in bedrooms.
- Phones and tablets handed in before bed.
- Complete chores and homework before going online.
- No technology at the meal table (unless a parent is on call for work).
- All screens off by a certain time at night (weekends could be later).
- Recreational screen limit on weekends.
As a community, we encourage Charlton families to commit to collecting the technology off their children at bed time, at least for students in Pre-Kindergarten to the end of Year 10.
Knowing that many young people use their mobile phones at night time for an alarm clock, we suggest that parents purchase alarm clocks to replace the phone.
I truly believe that if more families, schools and communities promote the collection of technology at bed time, we would see better wellbeing for our young people.
We will be discussing more parenting tips at our Parent Information evening in Term 1 next year
Mr Mark Ash / Principal