Liz Szabo of USA Today wrote an article saying that teens are deprived of needed sleep necessary to “to learn and stay healthy.” Her evidence came from the American Academy of Pediatrics that urged schools not to start before 8:30 a.m. because teens are biologically programmed to stay up later than adults. Apparently 83 percent of schools begin earlier than the recommended time, and since students need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep nightly, there is a problem.
Ms. Szabo cited more research. “Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for being overweight, depressed and using drugs, according to the CDC.”
The experts have spoken; kids need more sleep. However, instead of adjusting the national school start-time, perhaps we need to zero in on the parents. You know, the parents who aren’t parenting. The ones who fail to monitor their children’s bedtime activities (and time). For the life of me, I don’t know why it’s so difficult to set a night-night time of, oh, say 8:30 for the little ones and 10:30 for the teens…and mean it. With those hours, the kids would have plenty of time to come home from after-school activities, eat, do their homework, and catch some shut-eye.
I read Ms. Szabo’s article and thought, Wow, how times have changed! In my youth, boys and girls crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. to milk the cows and feed the chickens. My brothers woke up at 4 a.m. to roll the Kansas City Star and deliver it across town on their bikes. They also regularly filled in for the altar boys who failed to show up for 6 a.m. mass. (Because we lived right across the street from church, my brothers were perpetually on call.)
Those of my generation learned hard work, responsibility and stick-to-it-iveness. And let’s not ignore the fact that they also made good grades and something of their lives. I can’t recall any of my classmates burning the American flag, having their mugshots on display in the post office or cheating on tests…Well, maybe that one’s a stretch.
But seriously, what might it be like if parents removed the three electronic devices their children use as bedmates, not to mention the television mounted to their wall? What if, instead, bedtime included a devotional, a Bible or their multiplication tables? My three grandchildren in Henderson, Nevada, started school at 7:15. They made excellent grades, played sports, were involved in several activities and managed to get some impressive scholarships when they graduated. In their home, bed-time was bed-time. Not social media time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics—remember, quoted by Ms. Szabo—wrote this in a separate article: “…parents should monitor their (kids’) media diet for both duration and content. Excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.” Hmmm…
Our children are a gift from God who has entrusted us to teach them about balance in their lives. By allowing them free reign with their techno-gadgets, we are doing the opposite. According to John 10:10, The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. What delight Satan must take in kids who idolize their social media toys instead of God. 2 Timothy 3:5 considers that a sign of the end times: People will be…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
I’m afraid that’s where we are, and unless the parents wake up, their kids won’t, either.