Evidence is mounting showing that having screen media in their bedroom is bad news for kids.
I’m a parent, so like you, I know that being a parent is tough, especially when it comes to media. It’s all we can do sometimes to convince our kids to put down their phones and have an intelligent conversation with us. At other times, letting our kids use media is the only way we can get anything done. While making media decisions in our homes can be difficult, an increasing amount of research evidence suggests that at least one of our media decisions should be surprisingly simple to make: children are better off when they do not have screen media in their bedrooms.
A just-released study in the journal Development Psychology found a few things:
- Media in the bedroom leads to increased screen time. Not a big surprise there, right?
- That increased media time, however, takes time away from both reading and sleeping.
- And the less time kids spend reading and sleeping, the worse their school performance is.
- Media in the bedroom also leads to both increased risk for obesity and for developing a video game addiction.
- More bedroom media leads to more media violence exposure, which ultimately leads to increased use of aggression in social situations.
This study is just one of several studies in recent years showing that few good things come out of allowing kids to have media devices in their bedroom. In order to make this decision easy for parents, let me share how we avoid this problem in our home:
- In our home, the only TV we have is in a public space—the family room. My wife and I don’t even have a TV in our room.
- Our kids do not have any type of gaming console in their bedroom.
- We don’t allow cell phones in any bedrooms (including ours) at or after bedtime. All cell phones—and there are 4 in our home—are left in the kitchen or family room at bedtime.
- Our teenage kids do use their phones in their bedroom during the day for doing homework, texting friends, or listening to music. In our home, however, we have an agreement that mom and dad can access their phone’s history at any time. And if we notice too much use of the phone in the bedroom, we have our kids take a media break.
These may sound like hard strategies to implement. But the growing list of negative effects of bedroom media use should make the decision to implement the hard strategies pretty easy.
How are you dealing with the bedroom media issue in your home?