Having spent years writing about the rights and wrongs of children and technology, I was determined to start on the right foot when my daughter got her first mobile phone recently. So: no taking it to bed with you, I commanded. ‘What, like you do, Mum?’ she replied. Ah, yes. That.
Before further accusations of hypocrisy could be made, I did what the experts always told me families should do: establish a ‘tech basket’ downstairs into which is dumped everyone’s phones, tablets, iPod Touches and DS consoles at least 30 minutes before bed.
There are good reasons for this. Here is just some of the research out there to chill parents’ hearts: Belgian scientists found that even having a phone in the bedroom can make you sleep more lightly because you are always aware of its presence. A study in Sweden found using it late at night means you may take longer to enter the deeper stages of sleep, and spend less time in the deepest – most restorative - one. Then there’s the study that said children who use technology in their bedrooms lose a whole month’s sleep in a year, and there’s emerging research that the blue light emitted from computer screens can delay production of melatonin, the hormone that tells our body it’s time to sleep.
It’s a pretty serious picture of sleep deprivation for all of us. But children need their sleep even more: adolescents need nine hours because of their brain’s frenzied rewiring process, according to sleep specialists, yet the average bedtime for a 15-year-old is midnight.
The scary thing is that even modest lack of sleep has pronounced effects: when a group of 11-year-olds was told to sleep 41 minutes less for several nights, their memory and reaction times the next day were found to be two years behind their well-slept classmates.
So the tech basket is staying. Even for the adults.
Yes. Yes we do need one. Well, I did. We've always made the kids leave any devices downstairs at bedtime (and they stop using them before bedtime so they're not too wired as well), but my husband and I had then had bedside tables strewn with tablets, phones and Kindles. My husband sleeps like a log and would do even if he had a bedside table strewn with lions and fire jugglers. I do not sleep like a log. My husband didn't need the tech basket, I did.
The night after Rachel's answer went up on this site, I plugged my phone in on the landing instead of next to me. I still had my iPad for reading on (backlight dimmed) but felt this was okay(ish) because it doesn't get a wifi connection on my side of the bed (I know!). I definitely felt less anxious, and more sleepy. Although it wasn't a true test because I kept having to check on my daughter as she was coughing badly. It took me just over an hour to get to sleep.
The next night I ditched the over the counter sleeping pills (I've had problems sleeping for years), plugged the phone in on the landing again and didn't even look at the iPad. I fell asleep within 30 minutes - this is unheard of! Each night since I've experienced the same, even after a few G&Ts at the weekend (alcohol makes everyone but me sleepy).
I'm sold. I've been off the sleeping pills for nearly a week and am a total convert to the tech basket concept!
Love this idea, but hadn't heard it described as a tech basket before. We have a loose agreement that no-one takes any screens into their rooms at night (um, except for me and my phone and my husband and his iPad) but I think I'm going to actually get a basket and check my gadgets in on the way up the stairs to bed. I think even the nightly ritual of 'switching off' like that would be quite soothing and would actually help me literally switch off. Thanks for the idea!
Great idea - we have found out that our son was texting well after bedtime. This would help!
My daughter was sneaking calls after midnight, or using social media on her IPAD hen she was supposed to be sleeping during the school week. Honestly, you want to trust your kids, but you can't. They will always test the limits. Keeping the tech basket in our bedroom at night has solved this issue for now.
In my day, all my mom and dad had to do was pull out the telephone cord from the wall.
We should have a tech basket. We have the equivalent, which is the charging station, however, if all of the devices need charging every night then it says we're using our devices too much in the day.
The good thing about the basket is that you make it easier for friends who sleep over to abide by your house's rules. Even if "it's OK at their home to sleep with their cellphones or tablets" you can easily say - "right but here we put everything on the basket" (OH and I also hide it to avoid temptations...)
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