Electronic devices are pervasive in modern American children’s bedrooms. Parents report that nearly three out of four (72 percent) children ages 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in the bedroom while they are sleeping.
Children who leave electronic devices on at night get less sleep on school nights than other children do, according to parents’ estimates – a difference of up to nearly one hour on average per night. Parents also have a more negative view of the quality of their child’s sleep if the child leaves electronics on while sleeping than if not.
This holds true even with older children who are more likely to leave electronics on. Teens who leave devices on are estimated to get, on average, half an hour less sleep on school nights (7.2 hours per night) than those who never leave devices on (7.7 hours). Only 27 percent of parents whose teens leave devices on rate their teen’s sleep as excellent, versus 53 percent of parents whose teens never leave electronics on.
“To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School.
The modern family’s busy schedule affects their sleep quality. More than one-third (34 percent) of parents report that scheduled evening activities pose challenges to their child getting a good night’s sleep and even more (41 percent) point to these activities as challenging their own good night’s sleep. One in four (28 percent) parents report that in the last seven days, homework made it more difficult for their child to get a good night’s sleep.
“It can be tough to make time for sleep when we’re too busy; making sleep a priority can give all family members the energy to function at their best every day. Sometimes performing better in fewer activities can be a healthy trade for too many activities while fatigued,” said Hawley Montgomery-Downs, PhD, West Virginia University.