Fifteen-year-olds Maddie and Darby are probably just like your kids. “I don’t know, it’s just like fun, more, it’s easier than calling,” Maddie says.
Texting, it’s the way to communicate. It’s quick, doesn’t use up minutes, and you can talk to all of your friends at once. Sometimes sending hundreds of messages a day. Studies show that teens spend an average of an hour and a half just texting each day. But texting, it seems, isn’t just for the waking hours anymore.
“I don’t remember doing it, but I was texting my boyfriend, then I woke up, and I thought I just said goodnight and everything, and then he sent me this message and was like what? And I looked at the messages I sent before and I said something completely weird, it was like sorry, we lost all our songs,” Maddie says.
Yes, both Maddie and Ryder say they’ve sent nocturnal notes to friends, and they say it’s common.
“I remember opening my phone, I don’t remember typing anything or sending it, but I’ll send them really random things,” Darby says.
Sleep texting is real, and it’s what is called a parasomnia, or an event that occurs while sleeping. Doctor Michael Rich is the Director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, and says he sees this behavior in a lot of young people.
“Because texting is something people do, and particularly kids, can do without even looking at the screen, it’s something that’s going to happen in your sleep,” Dr. Rich says. It happens because so many of us sleep so close to our phones, ready for a call or text at any moment.
But Dr. Rich says sleep texting means you’re not falling into a deep sleep, which impacts how you retain what you’ve learned throughout the day. “Deep stage four REM sleep that’s necessary to move stuff they’ve been exposed to during the day from their short term memory, into their learning centers, their memory centers,” Dr. Rich says.
So how do you put the snooze button on sleep texting? Dr. Rich suggests parents take away the child’s phone at a certain time each night. Try charging your kids’ phone in your room. It will allow your kids to get more quality sleep, and allows you to keep an eye on what is being said, to whom.
“Think about cell phones, not as a divine right given to us by God, but as a tool that is used for certain things, you think about what it’s used for when it’s to be used, and when it’s not needed, as it is not, when they’re sleeping,” Dr. Rich says.
So to avoid sending a text that would require some explaining, putting a little distance between yourself and your device might help, in more ways than one.