Keeping Kids Tech-Free Before Bed.

dangers of children using tech at night timeAfter you tuck them in, turn off the lights and say your goodnights, do they really go to sleep?

With time, we have caught on the wave of technology as it has applied to and changed almost every aspect of our lives in terms of work and socializing. Information has become literally at your fingertips with your smartphones, tablets and personal computers in your hands. Gadgets now come with various utility features and just when we’d be about thinking that we have seen it all, they are updated with additional features.

However high-end, these technologies do not come with an age limit. Our children use these smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and laptops in school, at home and everywhere else. A recent study has claimed that half of the children in the world have used online social media by the age of 10.

Technologies and the information they hold will surely impact positively on the growth of a child, but dangers lay as a large number of kids nowadays overuse these gadgets.

Effects of kids overusing Tech.

Mental Health.

Researchers have suggested that kids between the ages of 10 and 13 should have between 9 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours, and when investigations were carried out it was found that some children in that age bracket still stay up at night using the internet or playing video games on their laptops or consoles. These children end up sleeping for 8 hours or mostly less.

Even after their long days at school, chores at home and doing their lessons, you would think that an early and long sleep would ensue but reverse is the usually the case because once they start using these gadgets at night time, they – the gadgets – emit an energy efficient LED light that suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that tells the brain that the body is sleepy.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important at any age, but it is especially bad when children aren’t getting adequate sleep. The negative effects of inadequate sleep in kids may include poor grades and forgetfulness. Kids that don’t get enough sleep at night are most likely to have daytime dizziness, and with that, school during the day might just be unproductive.

Physical Health.

Kids that overuse their gadgets also tend to do less and less physical activities. Many children often accompany playing video games with a bowl of snack in front of them, and when they use their smartphones they do so by just lying on the couch.

With time, this sedentary lifestyle can lead to significant weight gain, and even obesity because the time that is supposed to be spent outside, doing some physical activities and burning calories are spent on the couch doing nothing.

Also, do not forget that there are some natural nutrients that are vital to the development of a young child that your kid will miss if they don’t drop those gadgets and go outside. Regular exposure to sunlight gives them Vitamin D that fights infections and keeps their skin healthy. Sunlight also influences the body to produce more melatonin that help could help your child get more sleep at night.

Social Health.

Kids that spend most of their time online may have problems when it comes to socializing in person with their peers. Already used to virtual interactions and “his” and “hellos” online, keeping a conversation in real life may become a difficulty. It is a known fact that high levels of social media use in kids and adults can lower self-esteem and create negative moods.

This problem can also extend to how a child relates to his/her family too. Too much indulgence in social media and or video games could also take a child further from interacting with his family. A child that grows up playing games online excessively tends to have less ability to focus than a child that plays video games minimally. A kid’s cognition of information can also be affected because the kid is used to things being superficial and automatic from his/her video games, so when it comes to real life, they may find it hard to think critically to make decisions or develop their own ideas.

Dangers Online.

Let’s also not forget that for a large number of unknown kids online, there are also a larger number of unknown adults online too, and some of them may engage our kids. Caution to the dangers of the relationships that these unknown people can try to initiate with our kids cannot be stressed enough.

Also, a study from 2005 has said that 70% of kids between the ages of 15 and 17 have accidentally stumbled on pornography online. This means that even if they aren’t searching for it, there is a great chance that they might stumble upon some information that they are totally not ready for.

What can be done?

To prevent these problems, parents should make sure that they enforce a 60-minute gadget-free time before bedtime. They could also create a central charging system in the kitchen or anywhere else far from bedrooms where the whole family can plug their devices before they sleep. It will discourage bedtime use when children that are tucked in think about going all the way to the kitchen to get their phones.

Parents should also start giving strict use time and discourage bedtime use of gadgets from young ages. It is easier to convince a 7-year-old about the bad effects of using their gadgets when they are supposed to be asleep than it is to convince a teenager of the same. Start early, so that you avoid investing in a future of endless arguments with a growing adolescent.

Parents should encourage their children to go out more. In fact, take them out; go for a family walk in the park, and take them along on your morning jogs too. Enrol them in after-school sports practice, or sports clubs around your community.

Family time should be encouraged, and these times should be spent strictly away from smartphones and the like. Parents should set model examples by making sure they don’t spend too much time on their gadgets too. And when it’s gadget-free time, do not make it a kids-only thing –  participate too.

Also, parents should build relationships with their children, and ask them questions about their online friends – who they are, and if they are friends from school or in the neighbourhood too. Children that are reserved should also be given additional attention. If you have one, encourage the child to participate in real life activities and engage the child in physical activities too. These methods may take time to implement and definitely more time to see results, but they will eventually succeed.

Lastly, as earlier stated, technology isn’t altogether a bad thing, we can see its positive sides in our everyday lives as it is a reliable cure for boredom and it helps with work and socializing. But when it comes to our children, some limits should be applied to create that balance so that our kids can live healthy, social and a safe life.

This is a post by – one of the UK’s most trusted online recyclers for high end tech.