What to Do If Your Child Stays Up Late Online
Sleep is essential for a child’s proper growth and development. Rest plays a role in their physical and mental well-being, so adequate sleeping patterns are necessary to keep them healthy. However, many kids don’t get quality sleep because they stay up late at night online, from watching videos to scrolling social feeds.
As a parent, finding the right balance between screen time and quality sleep for your child can be challenging. Here are some actionable tips you can use to help your child practice healthy sleeping and screen time habits.
Limit the Use of Gadgets Before Bedtime
Gadgets play a significant role in a kid’s daily routine. While screens can be useful educational and entertainment tools, kids often stay up too late to play games, watch movies and talk to their friends.
The blue light from electronics with screens is a double-edged sword — it is beneficial during daylight hours because it helps boost productivity and mood. However, it can be disruptive at night. It may affect the circadian rhythm or the internal clock timing biological processes. This can also delay the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces tiredness and helps regulate sleep-wake cycles, which makes it harder for your child to go to sleep.
To decrease your child’s screen exposure, establish a no-gadget transition period at least an hour before bedtime. Put their phones away in another room to discourage your kids from checking them at night. Remember to turn off their notifications so that noise won’t distract anyone from their sleep.
If your child must use an electronic device to complete homework in the evening, ensure they use the “night mode” feature to block the blue light.
In addition to improving sleep, reducing gadget use is essential for physical and mental wellness. With electronic devices becoming an integral part of people’s lives, it could be challenging to set boundaries. Here are some recommended screen time limits for children:
- Under 2 years old: Zero screen time, except for video calling with relatives and friends.
- 2-5 years old: Less than an hour daily with co-viewing guidance.
- 5-17 years old: No more than two hours daily, except for schoolwork.
Encourage an Active Lifestyle
One way to discourage a bad habit is to replace it with a healthy one. Participating in a sport can be a good way to divert your child’s attention, as well as make them feel more tired at night. Physical activities impact sleep in many beneficial ways:
- Falling asleep quickly: Exercising can make kids tired in a healthy way, prompting a quicker transition to sleep.
- Longer sleep: Extended sleep hours make your child feel energized and more productive for the day.
- Quality sleep: Engaging in physical activity helps improve sleep quality. Try encouraging your child to exercise or play sports for two hours daily so they can enjoy quality rest every night.
While any physical activity will be beneficial, studies have shown that swimming is one exercise that helps improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. Not only will swimming tire them out, but they’ll quickly realize that staying up too late will impact their energy levels for swim practice.
Allow Screen Time After Fulfilling Responsibilities
Moderated gadget use can bring positive benefits. It can help them relax while gaming, learn from watching or reading educational videos and strengthen friendships via chats and video calls.
As a parent, you want your child to finish their responsibilities before facing the screen. Treat screen time as a privilege — ask them to clean their room, finish homework and wash the dishes before playing video games.
Another reason some kids stay up late online is that they crave attention that may be lacking from their parents and siblings. Perhaps your bubbly 10-year-old suddenly became uncommunicative because you’ve been working overtime, making you miss family dinners.
Usually, children don’t blatantly ask for attention. If possible, bond with your child before bedtime — ask about the favorite part of their day, school activities and what they are most excited about tomorrow. Simple daily check-ins like this can limit screen time and boost your relationship.
Be a Good Role Model
The digital world can be distracting, with people spending 5-6 hours on their phones daily. Take time to reflect on your phone habits and think about how many times you open your phone in an hour. Do you watch videos while having lunch? Do you often work in front of your computer every weekend? If you spend a lot of time in front of the screen, your child might notice.
Be mindful of your screen time and avoid using electronic devices during family time to help children learn to value moments with you.
Strike a Healthy Balance Between Screen Time and Sleep
Managing screen time for your child can be a game-changer for their sleep routine and overall health. With these tips, you can set the stage for some boundaries, physical activities, and quality time, leaving enough room for responsible gadget use.