Back-to-School: Helping your kids disconnect from tech with Dr. Arnold

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- In just a couple of weeks, school buses and backpacks will be a regular sight around town as families get back into the routine of back-to-school. However, getting into that routine can prove to be a challenge for kids, especially when it comes to disconnecting from technology. Thursday morning Dr. Alicia Arnold joins us with some back-to-school tips.

Over the summer, kids typically have a little more free-time to be on their phones or play video games...are there challenges when it comes to disconnecting from technology and going back to school?

“Back-to-school time can be challenging for kids for a number of reasons,” Dr. Arnold said. “More than 1 in 4 teens reports being constantly connected to the internet. And device use can interfere with time that should be spent on schoolwork or doing other things. Frequently kids will try to multi-task and use technology at the same time as doing their homework, which can cause problems with studying and grades.”

Do kids have anxiety about letting go of their technology?

“Some statistics suggest that up to 8 percent of teens have difficulty limiting their internet use,” she said. “There may be higher risk of depression in these teens. About forty percent of teens report being almost hit by a car or bike, frequently because they were on their cell phones and distracted. There are also millions of car accidents each year due to distracted driving, often due to technology use while driving.”

Do you have any recommendations for how to ease kids into spending 8 hours a day without their phone?

“We use our phones so much and they are so personalized for us they may even seem like extensions of ourselves,” Dr. Arnold added. “We have instant access to a huge amount of information that is important to us. Being aware of our attachments to our phones and practicing being away from them for a bit, such as putting them in a different room, can be helpful for the transition.”

When we do check our phones or I-pads, the bright lights can keep us awake, does that affect our sleep?

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends recharging devices at night outside of the bedroom to help avoid temptation to use them at night instead of sleeping. Having a mobile device in your bedroom is associated with fewer minutes of sleep each night. Both the lights and the content on devices can affect melatonin levels and they can keep kids awake at night, which can negatively affect their schoolwork. Studies show that those with higher social media use or who sleep with mobile devices in their rooms were at greater risk of sleep disturbances. Try to turn off devices 1 hour before bedtime.”

What do you suggest parents do to help their kids keep get into a sleeping schedule?

“Getting enough sleep is important for a child to do well in school. A week or two before school starts, have your kids go to bed a little earlier each night and get up a little earlier in the morning, so that they are able to get a full night's rest before the first morning of school. Try to maintain that schedule on weekends as well, rather than sleeping in.”