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three teens at a sleepover Kids and Technology

Is Your Child Ready for Their First Sleepover?

Allison Scovell  |  June 05, 2024

Do you remember your sleepovers as a kid? Perhaps you remember movie watching, telling ghost stories, or eating an entire tub of chocolate chip cookie dough with your friends. You may also remember some moments of teenage shenanigans that you’re not particularly proud of. Whatever your sleepover experiences were as a kid, you’re probably wondering how to approach sleepovers with your kids today. 

This is an important question because the truth is that sleepovers for Gen Z and Gen Alpha look very different from what we grew up with. What once used to be a rite of passage in adolescence now feels like a far riskier decision for parents, mainly because of all of the technology kids have access to. 

In this blog post, we’re going to discuss the state of sleepovers today, the risks and benefits, and some good practices if you do decide to allow your child to spend the night at a friend’s house.

How Sleepovers Are Different in the Digital Age  

In general, sleepovers just aren’t as common as they once were. It’s more common than you might think for parents to put sleepovers in the category of “no way.” And it’s not just the parents who aren’t comfortable with sleepovers — some kids aren’t keen on it either. The New York Times recently surveyed a group of students about their thoughts on sleepovers. Some of them noted that they don't actually feel like they’re missing much by not attending them.

There’s even a new alternative to sleepovers: the “sleepunder.” Also dubbed “lateovers,” these are when your child stays over at a friend’s house and participates in all the activities — but then goes home right before bedtime. Many parents feel this is as close as you can get to the best of both worlds, as your child still gets to experience the fun of later-evening hangouts, but without the risks of all-night sleepovers.

The Risks of Sleepovers


There’s no question that technology is one of the biggest factors in how sleepovers have changed. The tech we had growing up consisted of mainly the TV and possibly the desktop computer in the computer room. Now, most kids have their very own tiny computer in their pocket, along with Nintendo Switches, iPads, and more. 

Sadly, there are many stories of kids being exposed to harmful content like porn while sleeping over. Their friends can also expose them to platforms such as Roblox or Snapchat to chat with total strangers. Sometimes this is a result of peer pressure, but sometimes kids just have more confidence to push boundaries while staying up late with friends and hopped on sugary soda. Together, they may start searching for things or messaging people that they probably wouldn’t have considered on their own. In this way, “truth or dare” has survived through the generations.

Other safety concerns 

Other concerns that are more discussed nowadays include the possibility of sexual assault and gun safety. Every parent will account for these risks differently, but it’s recommended that parents thoughtfully consider them before allowing their children to attend sleepovers. 

The Benefits of Sleepovers 

Even with the risks of sleepovers, there are tons of benefits to sleepovers as well! The main benefit is that it’s a unique experience for kids to socialize with each other and create a closer bond with their friends. For many people of all ages, some of their favorite childhood memories will have taken place at a sleepover. 

Sleepovers are also great for fostering independence and flexibility, and allowing them to observe a different way of living. It’s good for kids to be taken out of the familiar environments of their own homes and schools and see how other families live. 

Some Good Sleepover Practices 

Have clear rules around technology 

We suggest having some sort of boundaries or guardrails when it comes to tech at sleepovers, but there’s no way to approach it. Whatever your rules about tech at sleepovers, we suggest making them clear and known to your child. They may not like them, but it’ll go a long way in creating a healthy sleepover environment that gives you peace of mind. 

Some examples of tech rules at sleepovers could be:

  • Having all electronics put away at a certain time 
  • Smartphones have to be put away, but TV for movies or video games is allowed. 
  • If they are using technology, it has to be in a public space where a parent can supervise 

Get a feel for the other parents 

As much as you can, it’s a good idea to have at least some interaction or awareness of the other parents. We’re not saying you need to vet them with a background check, but just a couple of conversations to get a sense of them. Never underestimate the value of a parent’s intuition! This also allows you to share if you have any concerns or rules you’d like your child to follow while at their house (for example, no R-rated movies). 

Make sure your child knows the dangers to look out for 

If you decide to let your child attend sleepovers, be sure to properly prepare them by talking about the potential risks. This isn’t to scare them,of course — it’s to help protect them. Sometimes as parents we want to avoid difficult or awkward conversations about things like porn or predators — which is totally understandable. We think that by talking about it we somehow encourage it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Giving your child a solid understanding of these things will make them more aware. Your conversations may be what helps them see when a situation at a friend’s house is not okay and they need to get help from you or a trusted adult. 

How Bark Can Help 

If you’re sending your child to their first sleepover and you have some worries, consider sending them with the Bark Phone. The Bark Phone is a smartphone that has all of Bark’s parental controls built into it, making it both kid- and parent-friendly. You can choose to lock the phone down to only calling and texting so it’s not a distraction from the sleepover activities, but it’s there in case of an emergency. These customizable controls, along with a whole host of other features, is why so many parents feel the Bark Phone is perfect for kids. 

For sleepovers that you’re hosting, the Bark Home is essential! The Bark Home allows you to manage all devices connected to your home Wi-Fi. So if your child’s friend brings their own smartphone or tablet, you can decide when they’re allowed to have access to the internet throughout the night. Learn more about Bark’s suite of products and order today!

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

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls