No digital devices at bedtime if children are to get enough sleep
Speaking during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live a top headmaster has warned that sleep-deprived children and young people are storing up problems for later life.
“If we don’t take action now we face a generational crisis” Reigate Grammar School Head Shaun Fenton warns.
Shaun Fenton has been named Chair of the HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) which is a professional Association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools.
‘As a country, we’re “sleepwalking” into a crisis for this generation,’ said Shaun.
He added that while the internet was a ‘wonderful, positive opportunity offering children knowledge at their fingertips,’ social media was the ‘biggest baddie’ in terms of depriving young people of sleep.
‘Those digital devices chase children into their private spheres at night. The white light, the seeking of likes and shares on social media can be really addictive and destructive and stop children getting a good night’s sleep.’
He advised all parents to adopt one simple rule: ‘no digital devices at bedtime, no tech in the bedroom’. He advised keeping a charging station downstairs.
Mr Fenton said that getting enough sleep charges batteries, ‘physical, emotional, intellectual’. He said that sufficient rest was indelibly linked to good mental and physical health and wellbeing.
“Children and young people who have had sufficient rest are far better placed to deal with the stresses and strains of every-day life. They see the next day as opportunities with hurdles to leap rather than stresses and anxieties to worry about.’
As to the ‘right’ number of hours’ sleep, Mr Fenton said that children were individuals and even an 8pm bedtime might not be sufficient for some.
He said that at Reigate Grammar, the issues of internet addiction and sleep deprivation were tackled right across the school, in Personal, social, health and economic classes, assembly, during tutor time, via peer mentoring, and parent-support evenings.
The school is also working with the Children’s Sleep Charity, which also works with parents and trains NHS health professionals. Mr Fenton is supporting the launch of its Sleep Manifesto at the House of Commons.
HMC (the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference) is a professional association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools.
It has 289 members in the British Isles, a further 54 international members and 12 associates
More info: hmc.org.uk