Where do you keep your phone at night? I, like many people who have smart phones, keep it in the bedroom at night. I like to read and catch up on some news and weather before I go to sleep; and I use it as an alarm clock. What I used to think of as a benefit of this is really a major drawback. As I think about the habits this has begun, I realize I don’t really need to check my email first thing in the morning. Nor do I need to check my email if I wake up in the middle of the night. This is a curse of the Smart Phone.
What about our kids? What does our example teach them?
There’s a lot of research on the internet about kids and cell phones in their bedroom. Do a search for “kids cell phones in bedroom” and you’ll see, well, a lot of results…
After reading through many sites, there are definitely some common threads. First, the studies. Many kids are awakened at night often by friends feeling the need to text or call them at all hours. But, kids need their sleep as do adults. For instance, 6 hours of consistent, uninterrupted sleep is much better for me than 8 hours of interrupted sleep. Kids also tend to stay up late being on their phone. So, staying up late and getting interrupted and woken up at night results in sleepy, lethargic kids that have much more difficulty engaging in school the next day. Taking this a step further, I think it’s wise to consider cell phone use behind closed doors and the age of your children. When kids are younger, they don’t need to be behind closed doors and it’s appropriate to monitor their conversations. As they get older, they’ll want to use their cell phone more and later at night. It’s up to you as a parent to decide at what point your kids have more cell phone freedom and what that looks like. My recommendation would be to keep cell phones in a common area at night.
So, how might you approach this? There are several strategies to make sure that this works for you and your kids.
- Start before your kids get cell phones. You want your kids to see you following the rule that your going to set for them.
- Decide on a time in the evening when the cell phones appear and get plugged in to charge overnight.
- Decide on a place in a common area of the house for this and make sure you have enough chargers for all phones.
- When the time comes, invite everyone to bring their phones to charge for the night.
Of course the challenge may arise when kids wake up in the middle of the night and want to check their phone. Personally, I think if this happens every now and then when your child can’t sleep is probably fine, but how you deal with this is going to be on a case by case basis. You may decide to not let them have their cell phone for a couple of days or make them pay more of the bill or a “fine” or something. I would hope that your children NOT having their cell phone with them at night would mean better sleeping and hopefully, this wouldn’t be an issue. If you think it might be, you might want to think about it before it happens and how you’ll handle it.
If you start this habit before you get your kids a cell phone, then getting them to do it when they do have a cell phone will be MUCH easier. And, the longer you do it prior to them getting a phone, the easier it will be to have them follow along. Imagine, if you’ve been doing this for 6 months and then the night you get your child a cell phone, how easy it will be to have them follow your lead. Or, if you’ve never done this and then that first night you introduce this rule to them, and you don’t do it yourself, how much more difficult do you suppose this will be.
Or, worse yet, if you never set this expectation and one day you discover some inappropriate cell phone use, it’s going to be very difficult to then set this rule that has never been set before. I would imagine that for you as a parent, it will be difficult to set and start this rule yourself if you’ve always kept your phone with you in the bedroom. I know it would be for me.