What can parents do about their kids’ perverse online habits?

Maybe it’s time that we talk about the real, updated facts and don’t rely on the older ones that tell us to sleep for 8 hours at least. The reality is: sleep is a very subjective phenomenon—it’s rather genetic. So if you can get away through the entire day with just a few hours of sleep, you are lucky. For someone like me, who is accustomed to sleep for only 4-5 hours a day, has to take some help from power naps. And this is how it works for me quite well. But for our kids, they don’t necessarily have to do this. They don’t have to compromise their sleep just for treading through social media. It’s not worth it. Sleeping less is different from depriving yourself of it. If your body asks for 7-8 hours of sleep a day, you have to get it, else you aren’t having enough sleep.

But in this read, we are going to talk about how teens’ use of social media is affecting their sleep patterns, which is something to worry about. In fact, a study by the University of Pittsburgh has revealed that people who are heavy users of social media are more likely to face sleep disturbances. However, the study wasn’t able to determine the cause and effect relationship, but rather just a positive correlation between social media use and sleep disturbances. So there is still a question that needs to be answered, i.e. is social media directly linked with sleep disturbances and deprivation? Or people already have sleep problems that make it difficult for them to sleep at night? This is a labyrinth that needs further research.

But the aforementioned isn’t the only study that has come up with a positive correlation between the two (sleep disturbances and social media use). Another research has found out that teens use of social media during their sleep hours tend to suffer from cognitive impairment and tiredness. A third study found out that teens ages between 11 and 17 are more likely to suffer from poor sleep quality, anxiety and lower self-esteem.

What’s the link between teens, sleep and depression?

As you can see there is a lot of literature available on how teens use of social media is ruining their mental health. But this isn’t the only downside of social media. High levels of internet usage also increases a teen’s exposure to cyberbullying.

The relationship between sleep deprivation and depression has a reverse causality i.e. Both can affect each other. For example, if you don’t get quality sleep, you can feel depressed, and if you are already depressed, you may find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Though we would like to make it clear that researchers haven’t been able to determine a definite relationship between the two.

So what can parents do if their kids are always clung to their electronic devices?.

Be your kids’ role model

It’s important that parents understand how powerful role models they are for their kids. But disconnecting your kids from their electronic devices at night isn’t enough. You have to do the same! This can be done by enforcing electronic curfews for the entire family. Unfortunately, the exact contrary is happening these days as kids use their social media account during the later part of the day. This is when the screen glow from the electronic devices reduces the melatonin production and leads to interrupted sleep patterns.

What do you need to do? The solution is simple. Set a curfew one hour before their bedtime. We know it’s difficult but this is the crucial moment that decides if your child is going to sleep on time or not. What you can do is to have a family charging station where all the electronic devices are plugged-in at night. This could be any place that your child can’t access, unless you give them the permission to do so. Your bedroom could be that place.

Normally, doctors recommend kids ages between 14 and 17 to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep. However, we believe that it’s not really possible as teens have so many obligations like homework, extracurricular activities, sports, and of course a lot of socialising. But it’s necessary to understand the significance of this lifelong habit of sleeping properly and at the right time. Within just a few years, your kids will be on their own, and if they don’t have good habits now, they will have difficulties finding the balance between their work and other chores.

The reason why it’s necessary to cut-off a child’s access to social media an hour before going to

sleep is because social media interaction requires brain stimulation that doesn’t let them drift off to sleep. So it’s necessary that teens don’t use social media at night. We know kids don’t have the habit of reading or writing before going to bed, but these kinds of habits are healthy and beneficial for your children.

Overcoming FOMO

One reason why teens can’t alienate themselves from their cell phone and social media is because of the “fear of missing out” on important stuff, like a post, photo or some video. While adults prefer to stay off the radar, teens find it imperative to have social networking connections. It’s like juice for their brains and bodies, presumably. It’s terrible that kids consider these digital devices as an extension of their social lives, and if parents do anything to restrict their kids’ access to social media, it’s usually considered as a setback to their freedom.

So what can you do if your child is addicted to social media? We say abstinence is the solution and you can help your kids achieve that through these guidelines.

  • Set rules for no-phone zones during night. Don’t let your kids put their phones on charge in their rooms.
  • Wean yourself and your teens to stay away from electronic device at least an hour before going to sleep. You can start with 15 minutes and build up to 1 hour.
  • Tell them to have other bedtime habits like reading or writing.
  • Refrain your kids from checking their phones during night. This can be done by alienating them from their cell phones at night.

It’s vital for the parents to help their kids with social media obsession. Parents need to monitor their kids’ social media usage and sleep patterns. If not, this could have some catastrophic and far-reaching effects on their lives and overall health. Help your teens become more productive human beings—start with monitoring their sleep and social media.

Have something to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

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