Plugged-in teenagers get less sleep, thanks to their smartphones, impacting the “Born to Be Wired” generation’s school performance and overall health.
South Carolina’s WMBF News interviewed kids at Myrtle Beach High School about their mobile phone and sleep habits, ultimately discovering the two don’t mix well.
“Someone says ‘I can’t sleep’ so they text you, then you can’t sleep so you text someone else, then the whole grade’s up,” senior Jack Springs said.
Springs’ classmates corroborate his experience. “Basically, I have to have my phone on me at all times,” says E.J. Goings.
Teens at MBHS report waking up each time someone texts them at night, keeping phones on vibrate during the day and defying parents’ and teachers’ pleas to turn off their handsets.
According to Dr. Ray Holt, this behavior can result in slipping grades, mental and physical health issues, and increased risk for drug abuse.
“Those message alerts you hear dinging throughout the night, you may be asleep during those, but it activates your mind just enough to fragment that sleep and cause some issues during the day,” Holt explained.
He offers advice to parents of overly plugged-in teens, suggesting they forbid phones during homework and bedtime and confiscate handsets if grades start to slide.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones whose smartphones keep them up at night, although specific life stages may make some users more vulnerable to the adverse consequences of disrupted sleep.
People aged 13 to 64 report poor sleep on weekdays, according to a Washington D.C.-based research firm, which found a high correlation between sleeplessness and late-night technology use.
Telenav even found one-third of Americans would rather give up sex than stop playing games or texting on their mobile phones. Partners choosing to sleep with their iPhones rather than each other does not bode well for maintaining healthy relationships.
But smartphone addicts may be able to keep their handsets and get a good night’s sleep too.
The “ShutEye” Android app helps mobile junkies analyze their body clocks and tells them when they need a nap. The “Sleep as a Droid” app detects body movements to determine handset owners’ sleep stages and wakes them up at accordingly optimal times.
In addition, Zeo’s “Sleep Manager” mimics a sleep lab to help people figure out if they’re getting enough shut-eye.
In teenagers’ case, however, the path to a technologically balanced life may be even simpler: turn off phones at night and during class time, and use them only as recreational and communicative tools.