Recent research provides support for what many parents already suspect: using cell phones before bed may harm sleep quality and mental health in teenagers.  As cell phones become increasingly ubiquitous among teenagers, many have wondered how frequent use impacts mood and self-esteem.

In a recent longitudinal study, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 high school students in Australia. They assessed their night-time cell phone use, sleep quality, and mood over time. The researchers found that increased night-time cell phone use was associated with poor sleep quality and a decline in mental health. High schoolers who reported higher levels of night-time cell phone use at the initial survey point reported higher levels of depression and lower self-esteem when they were surveyed again one year later.

Based on their results, the researchers recommended limiting night-time phone access for teenagers, such as by establishing a nightly phone curfew. Since cell phone use tends to increase throughout high school, it’s helpful to establish rules and boundaries early in adolescence. Parents can also model healthy cell phone behavior and avoid using their own phones at night before bed. For instance, parents can establish a nightly phone curfew for the entire family.

If you are concerned about your child’s sleep quality or cell phone use, clinicians at Georgetown Psychology Associates can assist in facilitating family communication and putting together a plan to reduce nighttime cell phone use. Please visit our website for more information and to schedule an initial consultation.


Mobile Phones in the Bedroom: Trajectories of Sleep Habits and Subsequent Adolescent Psychosocial Development