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teenage daughter with "zzz" and blocked emoji illustrated Kids and Technology

The Hidden Dangers of Kid’s Phones in the Bedroom  

Allison Scovell  |  July 13, 2023

teenage daughter with "zzz" and blocked emoji illustrated

When it comes to having phones in the bedroom, it seems every parent has a different opinion. Some parents are hands-off about it, while others have their bedtime routine written in stone. We know it can be hard to determine what’s best for your child when there are so many voices saying different things. That’s why we put together the research about what happens when kids have their phones in the bedroom — and why it’s probably better to avoid it. 

Blue Light Is the Enemy of Good Sleep 

Do you ever feel like your kid is constantly saying, “I’m so tired”? Well, it might be time to take a look at their bedtime routine. A study found that kids who were on their phones before bed were more likely to report poor sleep quality than kids who were not on their phones at all. Experts have found there’s something that happens at a chemical level in our brains that causes this correlation. Time for a quick science lesson! 

Sleep is a necessity for our health, especially for kids. With their brains developing at an exponential rate, they absolutely need a good night’s sleep to keep up with the growth! Our brain naturally produces something called melatonin which is a sleep hormone that encourages the body to sleep. But here’s the thing — our phones, tablets, and TVs give off something called blue light that prohibits melatonin from being produced. Without melatonin, it takes our body twice as long to fall asleep. Many sleep experts say the best practice is to put away all screens at least two hours before bed to allow for sufficient melatonin production. 

The Internet Is an Open Door to the World — with No Supervision 

Imagine dropping your kid off on some busy street corner in the middle of the night and saying, “Okay, be safe and don’t talk to anyone! I’ll be back in the morning!” You’d probably never do that, right? Well, unfortunately, this isn’t far from reality when kids have access to the internet alone in their rooms. 

By now, we’ve all heard about the common dangers of the internet: cyberbullying, porn, predators, violent and disturbing content, and so much more. The chances of your kid coming across these become higher when they have full access with no one else around. Kids don’t even have to be seeking these things to end up in scary situations — sometimes, it’s less about trusting your kid and more about not trusting the world on the other side of the screen. 

The Never-Ending Screen Time Cycle

A study from the University of Oregon noted an interesting effect of using phones in the bedroom. First, they found it led to poor sleep (which we already know). However, they also found what’s known as a “bidirectional” effect, where poor sleep leads specifically to more phone use at night. That may sound obvious, but essentially it creates a never-ending cycle of replacing sleep with screen time. Since you’re not sleeping well anyways, might as well scroll on Instagram for a while, right? And thus, the cycle continues. 

How To Start A Healthier Bedtime Routine 

So now it’s problem-solving time. If your kids have already started the habit of keeping their phones in their rooms, it’s no sweat! You can still implement changes now that help guide your family to a new normal. 

We suggest starting with an honest conversation. Share with your kids what you’ve learned and why you think this is necessary. Consider a tech contract that includes the bedtime routine you think is best. And then, slowly but surely, make changes and encourage this healthier nighttime routine. 

And the best news is that you don’t have to do it alone! Bark wants to partner with you to help your family create healthy screen time boundaries. Our screen time feature allows parents to set free time, school time, and bedtime routines, so your kid only has access to what you think is appropriate for that time of day. 

Additionally, Bark allows you to pause the internet at any point for all of your kid’s devices. Whenever it’s time for bed, you simply tap a button on your phone and their devices can be put away, distraction-free. Learn more about Bark’s powerful screentime features, as well as our web filtering and content monitoring, and start your free 7-day trial today! 

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls