Teens are sleep-texting.
Much like sleepwalking to the refrigerator for a midnight snack without remembering leaving bed, teens are sending text messages at night without knowing they are doing it.
Health care professionals are concerned because sending or receiving these nighttime texts interferes with a teen's quality of sleep. Although teenagers need a minimum of nine hours of sleep, they don't usually get it because of biological changes and lifestyles. Further, "sleep problems among this age group are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, depression, behavioral problems, and drug abuse." Sleep problems at this age can even extend into health issues into adulthood.
The article cites the Kaiser Family Foundation's study that found that teens spend "an average of 53 hours per week engaged with some form of electronic media," which translates to seven hours a day. Another study indicates that teens send an average of 100 daily cell phone texts. And if texting occurs in the nighttime hours, it can interfere with a good night's sleep.
A 2010 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Center says that "four in five teens sleep with their phone in their bed." One reason for this is that a phone can serve as a clock or an alarm. However, the biggest driver for taking a phone into bed is for the texting capabilities. "Teens who use their cell phones to text are 42% more likely to sleep with their phones than teens that do not text."
What Can You Do?
The WebMD article's author, Michael J. Breus, PhD, ABSM recommends a "tech detox" to help improve sleep quality for teens. He recommends parents set boundaries for using electronic media (approximately only 30% of teenagers have rules at home for this); encourage outdoor activities and exercise to improve sleep quality and put distance between your teen and their electronic distractions; and perhaps most importantly, don't permit electronics in the bedroom.