Or what to offer to your kid as a bedtime story for the best development and sound sleep? That is the ultimate question, many parents are asking nowadays.
The days and especially nights used to belong to a bedtime story to help put kids to sleep. But are those days long gone?
It sure looks like that when you look at your kids glued to the TV screen or with their heads buried in a tablet or a laptop or even watching a tiny cell phone screen underneath a duvet when the lights go out at night.
What effect does each of these two evening forms of entertainment/ relaxation have on the kids themselves? Is watching TV before bed doing them more harm than good? What about a book?
The bare truth on TV before bed
One scary fact for them all is described in just this one sentence: Researchers who studied the habits of 3,000 children found two thirds of primary school age kids watching an hour-and-a-half of television instead of reading before bed.
If we were to describe it with just one word, that word would be bad. TV is simply not a good idea even for adults, not just kids. Why? Well TV or any media for that matter before sleep just aren’t friends and neither they will be any time soon. Even a study done by Auckland University in New Zealand revealed a proof that kids who were watching TV or playing video games about an hour and a half before hitting the bed had a lot more trouble falling asleep that those who didn’t.
But why is it like this?
Well, the researchers who did the study mentioned above had found out, that the backlights from TV or all sorts of gaming systems (think playstation) and other screens can significantly affect children’s circadian rhythms. In due time, this chronic sleep deprivation will take its toll, for example in ways such as:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome, which is linked to ADHD
- Children obesity
Is book the answer?
A study done in 2013 had focused on what effect does reading a novel has on kids and young adults and the results are nothing short of interesting.
After reading a novel, students showed increased connectivity in parts of the brain that were related to language.
There are also long-term effects. Reading keeps the brain “awake” and helps delays cognitive decline in older people later in life. Alzheimer’s disease is 2.5 times less likely to surprise older people who read regularly prior to and when they hit golden years.
And all it takes is 6 minutes of reading a day. This can reduce stress levels by 68% according to researchers at the University of Sussex.
Another study looked at the difference between the effect of TV and the effect of a book.
The results were clear as day.
Watching TV caused lower quality and amount of communication between mom and her child. Reading books together was quite the opposite. It increased the amount and the level of communication. Mom asked her kid some questions, answered the kid statements and questions, and explained some details of the story.
TV is quite a passive and consuming type of entertainment. All you have to do is sit down, turn on the show and watch. And let the brain wonder. Almost no or no effort required. Books on the other hand are a more proactive form of entertainment and learning. When you are reading yourself or to your kid, brain has to concentrate on what’s being said and what is happening inside of the story. Books also have the advantage of being able to describe everything in greater detail. They help develop imagination and vocabulary.
And thus we came to a conclusion. Give your child a book and teach, encourage and help them on their way to better and sounder sleep and a great start in life.