Park Those Mobile Phones At Night

by Rosalind Wiseman

Filed Under: Mobile Usage

  • M obile phones are indeed our kids' hallowed gateway to the world. It's how they communicate, stay connected, and advance their social lives.

  • But it also can be how they get into trouble, experience cyber bullying, or get involved in sexting. Regardless of the context, mobile phones are at the nexus of your children's existence, even if you don't understand what half of their texts really mean (if you need to brush up on your texting codes and terms, see for a complete texting glossary).

    With this in mind, it's imperative for parents to set ground rules around mobile phone usage. And one of the first and most important rules you can set is: no mobile calling or texting at night. When it comes to our teenage and adolescent children, let's cut the pillow talk.

    To begin, you can check your child's mobile phone bill to see the number of calls and texts that occur past 10:00 p.m. The most immediate consequence of this behavior is a lack of sleep. In the topsy-turvy, hormone-charged world of teenagers, rest is crucial; our kids need to sleep and recharge their minds and bodies.

  • The allure of late night chats and texting sessions is too enticing for most kids, and the result can be more hours spent on a mobile phone than in dreamland. This is not healthy.

  • Eight hours of sleep should be mandatory for children. Good sleep promotes brain development and physical growth, so let's not allow texting about schoolroom gossip to interrupt those vital processes.

    Additionally, late-night talks typically carry an extra air of intimacy. For adolescents and teens, we need to ensure that these communications are not with an older person, a person they don't know or haven't met, or someone else inappropriate. There are very real and serious elements for potential danger here that you can easily deter by not allowing mobile phone usage at night.

    What's more, as kids talk late at night (or any of us, for that matter), drowsiness and exhaustion can be powerful instigators of bad decisions. A child is more likely to send a regretful text at midnight when they're tired and about to fall asleep than in the middle of the day when they're alert. We all need to think about what we say or text before we do so, and it's simply harder to do that late at night (visit the LG "Give it a ponder" campaign for more insights on thinking before texting and using mobile phones;

  • How to Cross the Nighttime Chasm

    Let's take a quick trip down memory lane. Remember when you were a teenager, and you had a crush on that cute boy in science class? Remember how he called your house one night at 10:30 p.m.? You ran like quicksilver to catch the phone before the second ring, but you were a moment too late and your dad answered the phone first. You closed your eyes and grimaced as Daddy roared to your dreamy sweetheart, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?"

    Well, why let mobile phones eliminate this wonderful rite of passage for your kids? When kids keep their phones with them at night, you have no idea about who is calling and when. And this removes priceless opportunities for you to bond with your child and their crush!

    Of course, I'm, only kidding here, but not entirely. Embarrassing teenage memories aside, I have found that placing mobile phones in a basket or a recharging station in a public place in the home (in the kitchen, next to a hallway, in the parents' bedroom, etc.) is effective; this is one piece of advice I've seen many parents follow to great success.

    As the phones are checked in to this safe spot before bedtime, your kids realize that late night chats and texts are not feasible. Plus, if they're savvy, kids will tell their friends not to call late at night, lest you check the caller i.d. and see who's trying to reach your daughter at 1:00 a.m.

    If and when you disconnect your kids, you are going to get serious pushback. Some are going to get mad, indignant, and downright recalcitrant as you try to outlaw nighttime mobile phone use. You have ways, however, to communicate this concept to them. I explain to kids that taking phones away at night is really about their privacy. A bedroom is your daughter or son's sacred retreat from an outside world that can be harsh and stressful. This is a haven for relaxation, introspection, and peace of mind.

    Having their phone on and by their side or in their bed at night destroys this sacred retreat. The whole world comes through that phone, so it's like leaving a door wide open to the commotion and excitement they should have left behind in school. So I tell children to defend their privacy - don't use your mobile phone as an alarm and keep it in a designated public place in the house, where you can get it safely in the morning. We need to help kids set boundaries with all technologies - not only to keep them safe, but also to let them know that it's okay to be disconnected once in a while, even in a culture that tells us that it's not an option.

  • If you're searching for specific words to help you lay down the law at home, here's a helpful template:

    "Technology can be really fun to use and it gives us incredible access to the world. But it is a privilege, not a right. And because it is a privilege, you have a responsibility to use it ethically and wisely. Calling and texting late at night can make you exhausted, anxious, and depleted for school. I need to take your mobile phone away at night so that you can be a higher functioning person the next day."

    Finally, by establishing rules and codes of conduct - i.e., you can't call or receive calls past your bedtime - you convey that you care about your child's well-being. Your kids may resist the rules at first, but (someday!) they will appreciate that you are involved in their lives.

Filed Under: Mobile Usage


Rosalind Wiseman

Rosalind WisemanAuthor of New York Times Bestseller, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends Rosalind is passionate about her work to raise awareness on technology in society.

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