From the very beginning, I have had a rule with my children that when they go to bed, their devices go to bed too. In my house we call it Device Bedtime, and even their friends know to expect it when they stay over. The logic is simple: at a certain time of night, there’s no benefit, nothing positive about remaining on a device, whether it’s staying up insanely late playing Clash of Clans or whether it’s burning hours perusing Instagram or texting friends in different time zones.
What’s interesting is that they don’t complain about it at all, though perhaps that’s specifically because I’ve instituted and enforced device bedtime for so many years at this point. Still, it’s a pretty easy house rule, though what I’d really like to do is have them all be powered down at 7pm or thereabouts so that my teens remember how to actually interact with each other – and with me – rather than have their noses jammed into electronic devices.
And yet, I completely understand the fun, the lure of these gadgets and, heck, it’s 11pm and I’m busy writing a blog entry while listening to the soundtrack to the Chinese epic film Red Cliff, so perhaps there’s an element of hypocrisy? Then again, I’m not a teen who is desperate for sleep and learning how to find my own way in a tornado of peer pressure and expectations, so in some situations teens and parents really aren’t in the same proverbial boat.
Hmm… tornado, boat, am I mixing my metaphors? Must be late. 🙂
I do firmly believe that even with adults, nothing good happens online after midnight anyway, whether it’s drunk tweeting or writing depressed stream-of-consciousness posts on Facebook or even just calling an ex and embarrassing yourself. Hard to enforce these sort of things with adults.
I am also one of that surprisingly large percentage of adults who sleep with their cellphone within 3-feet of their head. For me, it’s always on the side table, within reach just. in. case.
Meanwhile, “device bedtime” wouldn’t make any sense if the devices weren’t outside of the bedroom and in my house it’s easy: they’re in the kitchen, where all the charging cables are anyway. You can see in the photo, my 18yo daughter’s and my 14yo son’s phones are just sitting, charging, not surreptitiously tucked under their pillows or in use under the blankets in a dark room.
Should I just “unparent” and let them do what they want, then have them suffer through the consequences of poor sleep and poor decisions about what they’re doing online and late into the night? Perhaps. But I believe that children do best when they have structure, that structure creates a safe container within which they can thrive while learning for themselves what does and doesn’t work.
Perhaps we won’t have device bedtime on weekends or next school year. For now, however, it’s a smart idea, and if you have children, it’s easy enough to implement. Oh, and the “I need it for an alarm clock”? Just buy ’em a cheap, real alarm clock. Problem solved.