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Parenting vs. Technology: Helpful Strategies to Combat Electronic Overload

Chromebooks, iPads, Nooks, oh my! It would not be surprising if your child has access to more than one piece of technology in your home. With that said, the struggle to balance technology needs for school with the games and activities that take over your child’s night and weekends is real. BlogParents-vs-Technology-Main-Landscape

Although it may be frustrating to accept that technology is not going away, it’s important to recognize these moments as learning opportunities and a way to become a more creative parent.

Below are some helpful strategies to implement when combating technology:

Reward Responsibility – Create a system in which your child can earn ‘technology minutes’ for completing chores. Similarly to earning an allowance, this can be a great way to get your child more active in helping around the house.

Limit Bingeing Behaviors – Allowing your child to play on technology for multiple hours at a time on the weekend will likely make shorter episodes more difficult to transition out of. When your child has more time available, limit play to 30 minute or 1 hour increments, with other family activities in between.

Practice Transitions – Turning off the iPad, Xbox, or computer is a great opportunity to practice transitions. Provide your child with time warnings, clarify expectations, and work with your child to plan for the next opportunity to use electronics. Remotely turning off the family Wi-Fi can also be a helpful way for children to recognize that their time is up.

Become a Minecraft (or fill in the blank of which game your kiddo likes) expert! – Many of the games and activities your child plays can be a great way for you to spend quality time with your child in “their world.” Ask questions about the games. Read up on the latest news. Show interest and join in!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Teens and Sleep: How Technology is Playing a Role in Restless Nights

We are all familiar with the marked increase in media usage and availability over the last 10 years.  From televisions and computers to cell phones, iPads, and hand-held videogame devices, we all use technology.  All the time.

While we cannot argue with the convenience of these technologies, not to mention their entertainment value, there is a downside when it comes to our sleep.  In the sleep world, we call these devices “sleep stealers” because, as their name implies, time spent using these devices at night robs us of the optimal duration of sleep we really need.

Teens are frequently the subject of studies on this topic.  Likely because not only is a great deal of their lives are spent socializing but, let’s be honest, teens hate to go to bed early.  And, to some extent, rightfully so. There is an actual phenomenon of the sleep-wake cycle shifting in adolescence toward a later sleep time.

How Does Technology Use Affect Teen’s Sleep?

But nighttime technology use only adds to the struggle to get teens sufficient rest.  Recent studies revealed that 20% of teens are texting and 17% are making calls between 12am-3am.  20% are awoken in the middle of the night from an incoming text at some time, 9% several times per week, and 3% every night (van den Bulck, 2003, 2007).  If you add up the hours of lost sleep over the week, the result is staggering!

Aside from the obvious outcome of delaying sleep onset, what are the other effects?  Evidence shows that excessive nighttime technology use (>2 hours) can lead to increased arousal (cognitive and physiological), circadian rhythm disruption due to bright light, and decreased total sleep time (Cain & Cradisar, 2010).

So, what can you do to help your teen get the sleep they need?

  • Make it a house rule for everyone to put their technology in a designated place outside of the bedroom (e.g., the kitchen counter) prior to bedtime.  If children see that their parents are willing to adopt this practice, they may be more accepting of the routine.
  • If excessive nighttime technology is a problem and your teen is reluctant to give it up, pick an alternative nightly activity that can be done as a family, such as playing games, talking about the day, reading, etc.
  • Some teens and adults do need the television to fall asleep.  While I would not recommend someone starting this, it can be a difficult habit to break.  If this is the case, it is best to set a timer on the TV to automatically turn off after 30 minutes.  This will prevent night-time awakenings from noise and light.
  • Talk about the importance of sleep and make it a priority for the whole family.  If teens are aware of the negative impact that lack of sleep can have on their functioning (decreased attention, increased emotionality, weight control problems, etc.), they may be more motivated to make a change.

Read here for more strategies to help your teen make good decisions.