The Sleep Disorders Center at JFK Medical Center carried out a study on teen cell phone and video use late at night. The results were recently released. The study group was made up of teen males and females. These teens had formerly been to the Sleep Disorders Center to get help with sleep problems. The subjects were surveyed about what they did after going to bed. The surveys showed that the teenagers sent and received an average of 34 texts per night in the late hours of the night. The girls did more texting and the boys played more video games.
TheJFK Medical Center Study found a connection between late-night use of cell phones, video games and the internet, and the occurrence of disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, anxiety and difficulty with cognitive functioning.
This was a small study, but the findings indicate a need for follow-up studies. It’s so important to get control of circumstances that interfere with the sleep needs of our growing children. Dr. Peter G. Polos, author of the study, said. “teens get little enough sleep with sports, homework and getting up early for school. Late-night media use really isn’t helping.”
Besides the issue of sleep deprivation due to using cell phones and the internet late at night, there are a number of other health and safety concerns. Bullying and sextexting using electronic devices, can have devastating effects on young people. The danger of texting by teens while driving is a very serious matter. Teens who walk down a street looking down and texting could easily run into another person or a post or into an intersection and a car!
To be fair, there are some positive reasons for teens to own cell phones. Safety and convenience are important. Parents and teens can stay in touch and cell phones can be used in an emergency. A change in plans can be communicated and a message can be passed on without interrupting a parent or friend.
Parents and teens need to realize that teens are still children and they need parenting. Even though teens need some privacy in their lives, parents need to know what their kids are doing and who they are talking to.
It’s clear that cell phones and other electronic devices are here to stay. Plans for “good control” of a teen’s ownership of a cell phone should be in place and well understood when a child first receives a phone. To protect the physical and psychological health of our teens, more studies on the potential consequences of excess and dangerous use of cell phones and computers need to be done.