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    #1079: Child mobile phone use costs them sleep

    Article from: The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia).

    Child mobile phone use costs them sleep


    June 08, 2009 12:01am

    FOUR in 10 children aged four to seven have mobile phones, shows a study that has alarmed health professionals.

    The survey of 257 parents of 517 children for the Generation Next seminar series found almost 70 per cent of under 18s had a mobile phone, with one in four primary school-aged children who had a phone allowed to take it to bed with them. In total, about 1.6 million children under 18 were allowed mobiles in their room at night.

    Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says many parents were “stupid enough” to give young children phones and allow them to text friends in the middle of the night, leading to a generation of overtired “zombies”. He said 40 per cent of children were sleep-deprived on school nights, rising to 69 per cent for 12 to 18-year-olds. “I personally know of six and seven-year-olds staying up to 3am or 4am to send text messages to their friends,” he said. “That’s just insane.”

    Seaview Downs father Clayton Moore said he was “surprised” that so many primary school children had phones. “My son’s got one for a different purpose,” he said. “I only have him part-time so it’s a communication tool when I don’t see him for two weeks.” Mr Moore said his son Kayd, 7, used the phone primarily to stay in touch with him. “He’ll play games on it, but he wouldn’t be calling or texting mates,” Mr Moore said. “At night it just gets put by the bed and he knows it’s there for the purpose we use it for.”

    Dr Carr-Gregg blames “peer pressure” and time-poor parents for the problem. “Parents are incapable of saying no,” he said, adding that they often also allow TVs and computers in bedrooms. He called this “neglect amid affluence”. “They build these big houses but the children grow up in emotional silos,” he said. “A lot of (the parents) are very time poor. A lot of them are sleep deprived themselves.” He thought no child should own a phone until high school, and all technology should be off and quarantined by 7pm or 10pm, depending on the child’s age.

    Family psychologist Andrew Fuller said electronics of any kind in bedrooms was a problem and agreed parents were loathe to “displease their children”. “The senior school students that we talk to are just so reliant and addicted to their mobile,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a problem as long as parents lay down some guidelines.”

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