Teens losing sleep due to device use

Riccarton High School’s deputy principal says device use is derailing teenage sleep patterns.

Sharyn Varcoe said the issue came to her attention while gauging year 9 students sleep patterns.

SWITCH OFF: Riccarton High School deputy principal Sharyn Varcoe says devices should be switched off an hour before bedtime.

“At a recent assembly for year 9 students, at least a third indicated they get less than eight hours sleep per night, mainly due to using their devices late into the night.”

She said usage of devices should be managed at night time.

“Just like their devices which need to be charged overnight to be effective . . . our young people need their natural charger – sleep,” Ms Varcoe said.

The “easiest” solution was to ensure devices are switched off one hour before sleep or ensure they are not kept in bedrooms, she said.

As well as impacting on physical well-being, device usage affected emotional well-being when social media was misused, Ms Varcoe said.

She said most device usage occurred outside school hours, but teachers were dealing with the consequences of social media misuse such as cyber-bullying.

“We regularly broach this subject during assemblies with an emphasis on . . . how their social media use should be for good, and that each of us is responsible for our own actions,” Ms Varcoe said.

A peer-reviewed study of eight to 17-year-olds by the Global Paediatric Health Journal last year, found those who used their phone at bedtime had one hour less sleep than those who did not use their phone.

The study also found that those who played video games at bedtime reported 30min less sleep than those who did not.

The Ministry of Health recommends nine to 11 hours sleep for children aged five to 11 and eight to 10 hours for teenagers aged 14-17.