Is it ok for my toddler to watch a video or play games on a screen during his bedtime routine?
It may be intuitive to think that introducing technology use into your child’s bedtime routine is an emphatic ‘No’. This may be based on your own experiences of using a device before sleep and finding it a little harder to drift off. Or, you may have read somewhere on the internet that a great sleep tip is not to have any technology in the bedroom.
You may be surprised to learn though that there are some exceptions to the rule. But before we go too far, let’s categorize two different types of technological activities. First, are the interactive technologies, like videogaming or surfing the internet – ones where the individual is interacting with the screen, and what is on the screen changes as a consequence of the person’s interaction. These types of activities are potentially the most activating, and could make it harder to wind down and drift off to sleep. Second, are the passive technologies, like reading, listening to music, or watching a movie or television series. For these activities, the person barely interacts with the device – they just sit back and take it in. As such, these technological activities are less likely to disrupt sleep.
Studies have shown that sleep improves when reading is part of a consistent bedtime routine. It is therefore possible that listening to music and/or watching a video could also be part of your child’s bedtime routine. You would need to experiment which types of videos are more calming for your child, and at what point in their bedtime routine (earlier or later) that they can watch a video. Although some initial research suggests interactive technologies are not overly harmful to a young child’s sleep, we still await more studies before recommending it as part of a bedtime routine for a young child.