It’s no secret that our tech can prevent us from catching some zzz’s at bedtime. But let’s face it, encouraging your child not to reach for their phone, tablet or console during the night is no easy task.
We know this all too well because Digital Awareness UK speak to hundreds of parents every week, and there’s no shortage of questions about how to manage the flood of pings, buzzes and FOMO (fear of missing out) that tempt young people to swap sleep for screens at night time.
To shed some light on the impact devices are having on young people’s health and wellbeing, we did some research with the Headmasters and Headmistresses' Conference last year. After speaking to 20,000 11 to 18 year olds, we found 50% of them were checking their phones after going to bed, with a quarter of those using their phone for over an hour.
With this in mind, here are three tips to help your family get a better night’s sleep.
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
One of the best ways to avoid disputes before bed is to create spaces in the home where tech is stored at night, and agree a time at which everything is put away. Ideally, we should be switching off devices at least one hour before bed and charging them out of bedrooms, as it’s a sure-fire way to eliminate the temptation to scroll. If you feel that won’t work for your family, you can always agree to charge devices in bedrooms, but these should be out of sight and out of reach. The temptation will still be there, but they’ll have to step out of their warm, comfy duvet to start swiping!
2. SLEEPY SETTINGS
Android and iOS devices have some clever screen time apps which allow you to track and control how much you use your phone at night. Lots of our students use ‘downtime’ or ‘app shut-down’ features to stop specific apps, such as social media ones, from working around 60 minutes before bedtime, and this nudges them to start winding down.
‘Night Shift’ or ‘Night Mode’ can also be turned on before bedtime. This will adjust your child’s display so it gives off less blue light (which can make it harder for them to sleep).
Many young people say to us they wake up to hundreds of notifications, so switching on ‘aeroplane mode’ or ‘do not disturb’ and turning off notifications can help reduce interruptions during the evening and into the night.
3. INVOLVE THE WHOLE FAMILY
Let’s be honest – it’s not just children that struggle with managing digital distraction at night. The students we work with are massively influenced by their parents or carer’s digital habits and so there’s no better time for you to switch off from work emails or social media before bed and practice some self-care too.
Being a good tech role model is not easy, and the occasional slip-up is nothing to worry about. Start by making small changes to see what works for the whole family and then do them consistently.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon swap your FOMO for JOMO (joy of missing out) as you all drift off into an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
For help setting boundaries and pledging better digital habits, check out Vodafone’s new Digital Family Pledge. It’s a family activity to help you set some house rules on how you’ll use tech and behave online, including how you want to use devices as night.