Question: My 12-year-old complains of being tired and I’m worried that their screen time is affecting their sleep. Can digital media affect a child’s sleep? How much sleep should my child be getting?
Answer: Sleep is so important for your child’s development, so you’re right to be concerned. Not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on a child’s performance at school and their mental health. It can also be associated with obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between 6 and 13 years old get 9-11 hours of sleep a night. Teens age 14-17 years should aim for 8-10 hours per night.
Studies show that the quality and the consistency of an adolescent’s sleep is just as important to their overall health as the amount. Using a screen can affect the quality of your child’s sleep by making them more alert and raising their heart rate, especially if your child is playing an action-packed video game or watching something intense. This can make it harder for them to fall asleep. The type of light given off by screens can also disrupt the production of a sleep hormone called melatonin. Here are some tips to help your child get a good night’s sleep.
What Parents Can Do:
- Avoid using screens 1 hour before bed. The AAP Family Media Plan can you help you set healthy media habits for your family, including creating guidelines for screen-free times.
- Keep to a consistent bedtime schedule and routine, and don’t let digital media or phones interfere with this time. It can be hard to stop scrolling or watching short videos, especially on a phone, so keep phones and screens out of your child’s bedroom at night. Learn more about whether your child is ready for a phone.
- Make evening screen time a family activity (ideally ending at least an hour before bedtime). Choose relaxing or funny programs to watch together instead of action-packed video games and movies that can raise your child’s heart rate and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
- Review Common Sense Media’s article 10 Ways to Help Your Kid Get a Good Night's Sleep for additional tips for managing TV, tablets and phones.
Age: 11-14, early adolescence, middle adolescence
Topics: Sleep, screen time, social media
American Academy of Pediatrics