It’s everywhere. It’s in schools, shops, malls, and just about anywhere you can think of. Free wi-fi and internet access are all around us. With it also comes personal device use. Significantly, even children as young as 5-years-old are already used to using personal devices such as a cell phone and a tablet.

What is more desirable than to have your child learn technology at an early age? And why not? You live in a competitive world and you want your child to learn in the best possible way. Sometimes, it’s inevitable. Technology follows your child from home to school and everywhere else.

But there needs to be a barrier between technology and bedtime. Shockingly, some children spend more screen-time on their personal devices than face-time with parents or families. How is this destroying the sleeping patterns of children?

Negative effects of screen time before bedtime

When children are used to spending more time with personal devices before sleep time, it creates a whirl of negative sleeping patterns. Experts believe the light from electronic devices causes disruption of a hormone in your body, melatonin, that helps you sleep.

When your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin, it disrupts the sleeping rhythm in your body to regularly wake up and sleep. In fact, children with poor sleeping habits, because of use of screen time before bedtime, tend to have behavioral issues.

Hence, children begin to develop poor sleeping patterns. In time, children tend to perform poorly in school and create a disruption of sleep rhythms necessary for growth.

Significance of regular sleeping patterns before bedtime

Children need a routine sleeping pattern before going to bed. A consistent pattern of sleeping habits encourages children to develop daily rhythms. When children are constantly using screens right before bed, it slows down the process of developing adequate daily rhythms.

Sometimes, the lack of sleep shows up as misbehavior, tantrums, and falling asleep anywhere. More importantly, studies show poor sleeping patterns lead to a slow response in daily life.

It is crucial in immediate reflexes where life and death situations are necessary. Experts suggest a limit of 2 hours per day of screen time for teens and less than 1 hour per day for children younger than 5 years old.

Proactive ways to reduce screen time before bedtime

It is definitely not an easy task to reduce the amount of screen time before bed for children used to it all the time. However, you might want to put into effect a few steps to actually increase better sleeping patterns.

Here you can find a few suggestions:

  • Offer your children rewards for screen time
  • Schedule screen time 3 times a week, then reduce to 2 and eventually to 1
  • Offer alternative chill-out moments such as family game or reading time before bed
  • Suggest nature walks instead of screen time
  • Create art crafts or color activities to soothe
  • Play soft music and sing lullabies
  • Create an art journal or diary to encourage reflection

Healthy habits of screen time

Even if young children start to use personal devices at an early age, it doesn’t have to disrupt sleeping patterns. In fact, use of technology is helpful in many areas of learning and cognitive development.

In many cases, young children benefit from using personal devices to develop new reading or writing skills. Many programs are aimed at young children to develop those necessary skills to begin reading, using phonics, doing math, and learning other basic subjects.

Yet, you might want to limit the use of screen time before bedtime to ensure your child is successful in school and in life.

Do you have any unique ideas to encourage your child to go to bed without screen time? I’d love to know more. Share your ideas in the comment section.

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Barbara Mascareno-Shaw

Barbara is a bilingual content writer and a science teacher. She loves to write about parenting and family fun activities. Barbara writes about her educational journey as a teacher and a multicultural mom on her blog at Spanish4Kiddos, an online educational resource. 

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