NO PHONES IN THE BEDROOM AT NIGHT 📲🛌💤
Our kids will do pretty much anything to go online in the dark hours. So many parents we speak to tell us that their kids can no longer fall asleep sleep without ‘self-soothing’ using a device. Devices are the dummie and pacifiers our t/weens love best. So, you will have heard us preaching our #1 device rule preach: No screens in the bedroom at night. Full stop. The end.
But.. with all things device-related, we know all too well- this is not always simple:
It’s so unfair – everyone else is allowed their phone in their bedroom at night?, wined every screenager south of the Northpole?
Up until now, the research has really spoken to the fact that the phone next to the bed, with its pings and notifications, even when on silent (because it creates a niggling need to just quickly check to see if anyone has sent you a midnight eggplant emoji), is a distraction and a sleep deterrent – not rocket science!
But what really IS science, is the latest research by Dr Andrew Huberman, which suggests that when our children (or us for that matter) are on their devices between 11pm and 4am, it activates a specific circuit in the brain area known as the Habenula, that lowers dopamine, the feel good chemical, and wait for it…creates an overriding SENSE OF DISAPPOINTMENT in the world, their world! That is powerful. In essence that means it is PRO-DEPRESSIVE. So having a device on during those hours (think IPAD, smart phone, laptop, even a TV to watch a movie) sets our kids up to feel miserable. And the more consistent the habit, the more depressed they get
”But I’ll wear my blue light reflective glasses!”👓
Trying to hack this process with blue light glasses is not going to cut it, because it is actually the brightness of the light, not the colour of the light that acts as the dopamine dimmer. Multiple studies on multiple on groups are now showing how dopamine production becomes blunted over time, when we are on our devices in the middle of the night. And when we blunt dopamine long term, the body struggles to produce it all by itself – the vicious cycle has real implications for our children’s long-term mental health.
”But how much damage can it really do”⁉️
If you are still not convinced that removing the device from the bedroom is really necessary, we need to remind you of another important piece of research. most of t/weens get up to the really damaging online behaviours at night. Darkness is a frontal lobe inhibitor – the hand brake of the brain is far less awake at this time even if our kids aren’t – so regulating their impulses is harder. There is a reason our kids ghost each other at night, download porn at night, bully each other more online at night…the list of ‘what was I thinking’ behaviours adopted in the dark hours is long.
It’s just not worth the fight so what should I do?⁉️
We often hear how parents just feel too tired to engage this battle. First prize is a a family charging station in the corridor- where everyone’s devices sleep at night. But we get that even this feel overwhelming!
SO WHAT MUST I DO?⁉️
- Remember “You can’t be held hostage in your own home. Don’t engage the power struggle, Set the parameters in a calm way, even if you have allowed phones in the bedroom up until now. (Some families need to go the extra mile and lock phones in a cupboard as many of kids sneak them out of the kitchen when we are asleep)!
- Download our Damn!! This Device!! Mini Workshop – a parent’s complete roadmap to managing kids and devices. 4 x 15 minute videos you can watch in your own time covering everything from how to set up the device for safety, how to put boundaries in place that your child will actually listen to, in app parental controls, answers to all our frequently asked questions and so much more!https://klikd.co.za/mini-workshop
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- Talk to your child and then talk some more !
- ”I get it”: Begin by expressing your understanding of their wish to use devices at night. Let them know you recognize that they find comfort in their screens – hold back on the judgement, maybe even own that you find it relaxing too.
- Give them the low down: Instead of imposing the blanket rule, simply share Dr Huberman’s findings and ask them what they think. Emphasize that it is clinical research, not your feeling, or a hunch someone might have. Encourage them to read the research or watch videos on it with you (check out the Huberman Lab Podcasts). This collaborative approach can go a long way to them ‘getting it’.
- Swop roles: If you get push back, ask them what they would do if they knew you were doing something bad for you.
- Connect it: Speak to their personal goals and aspirations and share how loss of sleep and depression might get in the way of those.
- Remember, you can’t be held hostage in your own home: For older teens you may want to encourage them to fosters a sense of autonomy and responsibility by giving them the voluntary opportunity to dock their phone in the kitchen at night. For younger ones, help them to understand your role is to prioritize their wellbeing and that although it is hard to understand and accept, there won’t be devices in the bedroom overnight.
Sarah and Pam