Our Kids Aren’t Sleeping Because They Are Too Busy Looking At Their iPads

By  | 

shutterstock_150454292__1393868324_142.196.167.223Many kids aren’t getting the sleep they need, and I think we can probably all guess why. They have electronic devices in their rooms, keeping them up and disturbing their sleep patterns.

The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey and found out that children in every age group were getting less sleep than they probably should. Over 1,000 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 17 were asked to estimate how much sleep their kids got on an average school night. They found that a majority of kids slept fewer hours than the NSF recommends. They also found that three out of four kids sleeps with an electronic device of some kind in the bedroom.

From The Huffington Post:

“To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” poll task force member Orfeu Buxton, Ph.D. said in a statement. Teens who slept with devices on averaged about half an hour less sleep on school nights compared to teens who slept without devices. Experts typically recommend powering down all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, since they both stimulate the brain and suppress the release of the sleep-promotion hormone melatonin.

My teenage step daughter would sleep with her iPad under her pillow if we let her. I’m turning into the hypochondriac mom constantly saying things to her like That can give you brain cancer! The rays aren’t good for you! If you’re wondering what “rays” I’m referring to, don’t ask. It just seems like something a crazy hypochondriac mom should be saying – so I do it.

This all makes sense. When I had a period of insomnia everything I read about it pointed to turning off your television and unplugging for a while before you go to bed. I’ve never had a television or anything in my room. I know the sound of it lulls some people to sleep, but it does the exact opposite for me.

The poll takers suggest that a good rule for improving sleep is enforcing bedtimes. They also insist that parents should lead by example; “Children whose parents have electronics in the bedroom are more likely to have devices in their bedrooms, too. Less than a quarter of children have a smartphone, laptop or video game in their bedrooms if their parents do not.”

(photo: Alena Ozerova/ Shutterstock)


  1. Crusty Socks

    March 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    During the 80’s-90’s kids weren’t getting sleep because they were always on the phone

    60’s-70’s watching TV

    50’s doing whatever the hell kids did back then

    40’s… um, worrying about Hitler

    30’s… b/c they’re working the dustbowl

    20’s… I’m running out of ideas…

    but you get the point. Kids NEVER got enough sleep. It has nothing to do with evolving tech. Kids just rather have fun than sleep.

    That’s why I asked earlier, what’s the recommended dosage of Valium?

    • Williwaw

      March 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      You probably shouldn’t let your kid have Hot Pockets in the bedroom, either.

    • Crusty Socks

      March 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      New slogan:

      Hot Pockets: Prevents Teen Pregnancy™

    • Bethany Ramos

      March 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm


    • Valerie

      March 4, 2014 at 8:24 am

      I was a serious nerd- in the 90’s, I didn’t get sleep because I was reading a book under my covers with a flashflight. OMG, NERD.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      March 4, 2014 at 10:50 am

      books don’t cause cancer!

  2. Kay_Sue

    March 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I’m really bad with the technology. We do enforce no screen time for the kids an hour before bed, and I personally hate having anything in our room–my husband insists on the TV, which we never even watch…but it has to be in there. But I will definitely sit around online, reading and stuff, until bed time and we are horrible about binge watching TV shows, which can go until well up to (or even past) our bedtime. It’s one of those things I hadn’t really considered affecting the way our kids view sleep (because they aren’t awake to see it).


  3. YarghMatey

    March 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    My daughter has to turn her electronics in to me before going to bed. And flashlights. Granted, I’m glad she likes to read so much, but I’d rather not have a cranky, meltdown-prone tween. And she’d stay up until 4 am playing minecraft and watching youtube videos if she could get away with it.

  4. talonsage

    March 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    We don’t keep that stuff (we don’t even have smart phones and no way do we have Ipads or ANY pads) in the bedroom and we don’t allow Chibi to either. She has a DS and a Nook with a Glow-light and she is not allowed to have them in her room. She already has sleep issues bc of Aspergers. Believe me, we’ve enforced screentime rules for FOREVER.

  5. Justme

    March 3, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    My school district recently gave all students a school-issued iPad and I have heard SO many parents in parent-teacher conferences complain about the amount of time their kids are spending on iPads but when asked about what restrictions or guidelines they have on the iPad…they have none.


    If you’re going to give your child the power of technology in a phone or tablet, you must teach them to use it responsibly – which means setting restrictions and guidelines…and then following through.

    It’s amazing to me the number of parents who are honestly floored when I suggest that maybe the iPad is kept charging overnight in the parents bedroom – or even in a common area of the house. Or the ones that are upset that their kid is downloading so many games to the iPad…but never considered that THEY were the ones who gave their child the password to their iTunes account.

    You would never give your child your wallet and let them do whatever they want with it, so why is technology any different?

    • SarahJesness

      March 4, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Ooooh, a school that gives out iPads! Is it one of those fancy rich-people schools with horse stables, and high class yachts for the kids to take field trips around the world?

      In all seriousness, I agree with you. I hate it when parents are quick to blame technology for things, and complain that their kids use it so much, when most major technology these days have some sort of parental controls. Though even without parental controls, I doubt it’s so impossible to keep most technology from kids. Even if you have to put a little more effort in, like locking up the items when you don’t want the kid using ’em.

    • Justme

      March 4, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      My district has five high schools, fifteen middle schools and over thirty elementary schools. Out of fifteen middle schools, at least six of them qualify for Title I funds which mean the vast majority of their students come from low-income socioeconomic families and are at risk for not graduating from high school.

      I know you’re just joking, but the beginning of your comment really rubbed me the wrong way.

  6. C.J.

    March 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    My kids keep all their electronics in their rooms. Somehow we have never had a problem with them being on them past bedtime. I still tuck them in at bedtime and we talk for a bit then the lights go off and they go to sleep. I don’t even limit how much screen time they have because they are very active. I think I just got lucky.

  7. BereniceRezentes

    March 4, 2014 at 1:21 am

    I think that Parents are more attention about Our kids for Playing a game in the Ipads and does not take a sleep in the night its very bad for the health and face a problem for sleep disorder.

  8. Sarah Penny

    March 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I have sleep problems because I take 7.5 academics and a lot of extracurriculars – all non athletic.

    Maybe when it’s not such a nightmare for kids to get into college, they’ll have time to sleep.
    Oh, and by the way, my parents take away all electronics before I go to bed. I have sleep problems, largely caused by stress waiting for April first.

    You know what else we can blame sleep problems on? School starting early. At a certain time of night, no matter how much I might want to stay up, I can’t. The problems that I have to get up at 7 am.

    No one I know gets enough sleep.

    • Cat

      March 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Off topic, but I freaked out for a moment because you have the same name as my sister…

  9. LiteBrite

    March 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I get to be all sanctimonious here by stating MY kid doesn’t use an iPAD. I’m proud to say we’re completely iPad-free.

    That’s because we have a Kindle.

    And I totally agree that stupid gadget causes all sorts of problems at bedtime because the boy just has to finish that last game of “robot boxing.” (Although I have to admit that game is pretty cool. I’ve beat Aquabot six times now. I rule.) But he’s not allowed to have it in his room overnight (because my husband monopolizes it after the kid goes to bed). He doesn’t have the password to download anything, and he’s not allowed to make changes to the device without our express permission. I think we’re pretty cool at limiting the amount of time he spends on it, but we probably could be better.

  10. Alex Lee

    March 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I’m thinking of the larger picture regarding sleep and society.

    Do we actually encourage sleep-deprivation? Not just from the electronics we provide ourselves and our children but beyond that. Don’t we, in a sense, encourage or reward people who pull “all-nighters”? How many overpriced coffee drinks do we consume with “turbo shots” and chase those down with “5-hour energy”? Do we view those who seek 8-12 hours of sleep each night as somehow “weaker” or unfit for today’s hyper-stimulated society?

    I saw this first-hand during college (my roommates were all-too-willing to use themselves as guinea-pigs for their enhanced coffee brews). I pulled an all-nighter once just to see whether it would help my exam score – it did not.

    We should be cautious in placing a lot of the blame on electronics, though. They can be incredible learning tools. I’m sure many of us would love utilizing a tablet or online service if it meant getting past a particular learning disability. Once you make learning more-efficient, you have more time for other things like, for example, sleep!

    So, I think we need to watch for the signs of deprived-sleep and try to break the cycle. There was no subject that I studied in college that required me to stay up all-night to learn.* Being tired actually worked against my learning ability. If you see your middle-schooler reaching for the Starbucks card – it’s time to start asking the hard questions.

    * – your own college experience may vary.

  11. salemthegoddess

    March 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow but that’s because I use the Sleep Cycle app, and it’s amazing! That app has totally changed how my husband and I wake up in the morning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *