Cell Phones. Again.


Look, I hate cell phones as much as the next guy, but a new study blaming cell use for sleepy teen-agers is a bit much. Have these all-night phone phreaks no parents? Evidently not:

Computers, cell phones, televisions and video games all keep those who should be asleep wide awake, said Jodi A. Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and coauthor of the study. As a result, more than a quarter of high school students fall asleep in school at least once a week. Fourteen percent don't make it on time—if at all.

At fault is not just teenagers' altered circadian rhythm but the number of distractions keeping them up at night, according to a two-month poll of 1,602 caregivers and their children in grades six through 12.

Nearly all the children surveyed had one gadget in their bedrooms, but by 12th grade, 39 percent had more than four electronic items there, the study found.

"Those with four or more electronic devices in their bedroom were twice as likely to fall asleep in school," said Mindell, cochair of the National Sleep Foundation task force that conducted the poll.

These "electronic devices"—jeepers!—are not materially different than the old flashlight and comic book trick. Powered or unpowered, a distraction is a distraction.

NEXT: Caspar the Friendly Ghost

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ah, high school naps…fifth period…after lunch…this was back in the dark ages when all we had to keep us up at night was printed matter. Learning to sleep with your eyes open…priceless!

  2. Ah, high school naps…fifth period…after lunch…this was back in the dark ages when all we had to keep us up at night was printed matter. Learning to sleep with your eyes open…priceless!

  3. Oh my! I fear our nation’s teenagers may come to no good! Oh, if only we could go back to [pick random era here].

  4. I remember that as a teen, Abraham Lincoln was kept up late at night by that newfangled gizmo, the book-n-fireplace.

  5. Yep, I’m with emmajane on that one, except that it was more like 3rd period and being on time? Whassat? Never did figure out sleeping with my head up and my eyes open either. Still have dents in my skull where the chalk hit me.
    Didn’t even have TV and the flashlight batteries kept running out too. I was such a deprived kid!

  6. National Sleep Foundation task force


  7. I perfected sleeping with my eyes open, but I never got the hang of answering questions when called on in that state. I reverted to sleeping obviously from then on.

    Teenagers sleep alot? Is that even news? It’s been going on for a damn long time, as far as I know. But, remember, we have to infantalize near-adults and young adults as much as possible, otherwise they might think for themselves.

  8. Surely you can see that the ability to socialize will have a much stronger draw than that of a book. The book/video game comparison is fairly apt, but cell phones and computers give teens the ability to stay up late talking to other teens, which is one of their favorite things to do. How many of today’s teens would stay up late reading a book for a lack of cell phone or computer? Probably not many.

  9. You know, electricity also helps to keep us awake that late. We should let her know that so she can advocate for its removal.

  10. Actually, their policy suggestion strikes me as — eminently sensible. Behold:

    The researchers said that as children reach puberty, their body clocks tended to readjust to start two hours later, so they are more alert at night and sleepier in the early morning. Mindell and Carskadon said schools should adjust their schedules accordingly, and start later.

    I’ll be damned. I just read something that made sense. Might be the first time this decade.

  11. I slept through most of my classes. The first week or so each year, the teacher would wake me up and ask me a question, trying to embarrass me. After I gave the right answer enough times, they stopped bothering me.

  12. Independent Worm;

    That study has been out for a while. I remember reading about it a few years ago. As I recall, one high school actually implemented a new schedule based on the idea. According to the teachers, the kids really were more alert in class.

  13. The thread on electronic devices seems as good a place as any to post this. I have the perfect solution to the H&R server problem. Every 108 minutes, just enter the following code:

    4 8 15 16 23 42

  14. I suggest building a monorail.

  15. Computers, cell phones, televisions and video games all keep those who should be asleep wide awake

    For me it was books. I was usually up until 2 or 3am reading. Burn the books!

  16. But that was OK, because I could always make up a good portion of that sleep in Latin class.

  17. lunchstealer >

    How true. Now I know why it took me 9 years to get the hang of Latin. In the end I actually liked it.

  18. >Actually, their policy suggestion strikes me as — eminently sensible.

    It does me too. I could never stay awake in high school for two reasons. First, I had to get up too freaking early in order to make it to the bus stop on time, and second, despite the fact that I ate a real, healthy breakfast every morning, my metabolism at that age was such that I was starving again by the end of first period. Not enough sleep + not enough calories = dozy and inattentive.

  19. What, they needed a study to find this out? You mean to tell me not a single person doing the research stayed up late as a kid?

    Some things I did to say up late: Record Dr. Demento radio shows until 12am w/ my tape recorder;


    Up until 3am making the most exquisite bookmark with an exacto knife and colored cardboards;


    listen to latenight interviews with rock musicians while reading about them;

    Uh…and you really needed a study to determine that kids that have all kinds of toys in their room might want to, you know, play with them?

    Who wants to join me in doing a study on the people who obtain money to do a study to report obvious information as “new and relevant?”

  20. I suggest building a monorail.

    Nah, that’s more of a Shelbyville idea.

  21. Guess how many hours of sleep are suggested for a teenager by the NSI?

    9! Seems steep. If you have to be at school by 8 A.M., a guy could wake at 7 after going to bed at 10 P.M. the previous night, and have 6-7 hrs for study, social, and work between school and bedtime. No frickin way the average teen is going to get 9 hours of sleep and it’s not because of computers, video games and cell-phones. The cause is real life.

  22. shouldnt people be happy that there just staying up talking on the computer, not having promiscuous and possibly homosexual sex while on drugs? pick your battles america! jeez

  23. Yet another study that blames behavior that occurs mainly at school on anything but what happens at school.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.