As a parent, sometimes you bump into research about children, childhood or parenting that’s so incredibly obvious that it’s hard to imagine that the research group was able to even obtain funding. You know, like research that shows the link between sugar and hyperactivity, or research about how a toxic environment has a toll on the emotional development of a child.
The latest in this line is a research study from the journal Pediatrics entitled “Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment” that concludes “Sleeping near a small screen, sleeping with a TV in the room, and more screen time were associated with shorter sleep durations. Presence of a small screen, but not a TV, in the sleep environment and screen time were associated with perceived insufficient rest or sleep.”
Translating to layman’s language, we can boil it down to “if your kid’s on their phone, tablet or watching TV, they’re going to sleep less.”
See what I mean? Isn’t that really obvious??
I mean, imagine them finding the opposite results, that children who play on their tablet or check their cellphone at bedtime are more rested and report perceived increase in quantity and quality of sleep. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Because parenting is no longer sufficient, however, no less than the BBC has come out saying that as a result of this sort of research smartphones, tablets and TVs need an “automatic bedtime mode” , going as far as to quote a Professor Paul Gingras from Evalina Children’s Hospital in London that “manufacturers need to show more responsibility.”
Here’s the thing: we’re parents. We are responsible in a really large way for the world our children create. So it’s our job to say no to late night tablets, to pull the television out of the bedroom (if it ever shows up there in the first place) and even enforce the children leaving their devices in the family area at bedtime, not taking them to bed as a digital companion.
Truth be told, there’s really nothing good or important that transpires after hours online or on a smartphone anyway, whether it’s late night texting, surfing increasingly inappropriate Web sites or staying up all hours reading that favorite book for the fourth time.
Oh, wait, reading a book late at night with a flashlight is the same basic problem, isn’t it? Just a bit less dramatic, I suppose.
Still, I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the TV manufacturers and other device makers to add a bedtime mode that changes the light spectrum to remove the blue light that affects sleep, nor is it earth-shattering news that kids who stay up late on their devices don’t sleep as well or as deeply.
It’s just a reminder for us parents to actually parent, even when it might cause some friction in the house. After all, that’s our job.