The bad one. We are entering an era

The cell phone has become a huge distraction in many areas of everyday life, and “before” bed is a particularly bad one. We are entering an era where “people can’t just sit still and be; they pull out the phone to see what’s new in the past five minutes” (Gosnell). The people of all ages have become ensnared in the tangling wires of the iPhone. This applies at all times of the day, including late at night, when people are supposed to be asleep. This affects sleep patterns in a very bad way, as “cell phones and tablets expose people to a lot of blue light… that blue light prevents photoreceptor cells in the eye from triggering the release of an important hormone.. Normally, when the sun goes down… our body releases melatonin… But when we have all this artificial light on, it’s tricking those photoreceptors into thinking it’s still daytime” (Hamilton). This prevents people from getting the correct amount of sleep necessary for optimal function.  In a way, “using your gadget late at night before bed can actually make you feel ‘hungover’ the next day” (Grossman). This lingering effect has consequences that affects developing teens. Adolescents face an increased chance of depression, as “adolescence is a time of increasing vulnerability for poor mental health… Sleep disturbance is an important risk factor for the development of depression during adolescence” (Lemola). Further studies “also examined was whether sleep disturbance mediated the relationship between electronic media use at night and depressive symptoms. 362 adolescents were included and completed questionnaires assessing sleep disturbance and depressive symptoms… Smartphone ownership was related to more electronic media use in bed before sleep, particularly calling/sending messages” (Lemola). Another study was performed to investigate if phone use before bed was a trigger for chronic insomnia. “532 students were recruited… Respondents reported the frequency and average duration of their in-bed media use, as well as insomnia symptoms… The results showed that… usage… was positively associated with insomnia, and negatively associated with morningness.” (Fossum). Sleep deprivation itself “is a major source of morbidity with widespread health effects, including increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and stroke” (Nir). This is a huge issue, as it detracts from your entire day, making it not only a hindrance, but one that is bad for adolescents’ health. Some people have tried to find solutions, such as not giving their children any cellular devices, such as in the case of one family, where a researched father believes “giving a kid a phone… should not be taken lightly. It should be done only after considering all the risks involved, educating your kid about them and attempting in advance to mitigate them” (Wolverton). Others have tried to create apps that lock phones, as in the case of a Chinese developer, who developed an app that “will set off an alarm every 5 minutes if the user does not click ‘sleep’ at the time he or she has set… Once the ‘sleep’ command is clicked, the mobile phone will be locked for 2 hours… ‘The intention of the application… is to encourage… students to return to the healthy habit of going to bed early'” (Consumer Health). Trying to create a way to stop the problem of late night phone usage is a very good goal to be working towards, however, not everyone shares the same beliefs about smartphones and many people don’t know these apps exist. In order to fix the problem, what needs to be made is an official phone locking system with parental controls. As part of a system update, a major company, for example Apple, could add these features in. The parent could then go into a child’s phone and set a time between two points which the phone will be locked and unusable. Only the basic emergency call features should be available during this locked state, and the phone would not reactivate until that time expires. A parent could easily become aware of this through notifications and news. They should also only be able to set randomized passcodes as their Parental Controls passcode to prevent kids from changing the settings. This way, parents can be sure that kids aren’t using their phones, as at night, the phone itself is nothing more than a glowing plastic rectangle.