Bedtimes and device limits can prevent back to school anxiety

Aug 8, 2023, 5:00 PM

WEST POINT, Utah -- Students at Lakeside Elementary heading back to school today are met with no ai...

As back-to-school season starts, weaning children away from devices can help prevent anxiety. (Shutterstock)


SALT LAKE CITY — Can you believe it? It’s back-to-school time already. Earlier bedtimes and school nights are coming. What can parents do to help their kids avoid anxiety as kids start going back to school?

The answer is pretty simple, and it helps a lot. “It’s time to wean the kids off of their devices,” reports ABC News correspondent Jim Ryan.

On Tuesday, Ryan told KSL NewsRadio that on average, kids spend about 8 1/2 hours in front of a screen. And he said breaking that habit on the first day of school can make it hard for children to focus. 

“Pediatricians say that you’re going to have a kid who’s anxious, fidgety, isn’t learning, and is literally going through withdrawal symptoms, because you’ve taken away that device all of a sudden.”

The alternative? “Try to do it gradually,” Ryan said.

It’s the same pattern as it has always been, but now, instead of TVs, the withdrawal can come from tablets.

Getting to bed on time is also important. 

“Pediatricians also recommend that you start the kid into cycling back, if they’re staying up until 10 o’clock now, break it down to about 9:30 within the next couple of days, then nine o’clock or whatever their actual bedtime is during the school year,” he said.

Back-to-school anxiety

Experts say that anxiety is common in children returning to school. Parents can help their kids by preparing them for the upcoming year. And the help offered today can extend for years going forward.

“Not only do children learn from experience, but so does the amygdala. This part of the brain, that’s responsible for anxiety, can recognize a trigger as a threat and associate it with anxiety,” wrote Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber  from Hilber psychological services in San Diego

They said the best way to go about offering this help to kids is by using a loving tone, urging kids to ease into a relationship with their teacher, and reassuring them that they will be taken care of at school.



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Bedtimes and device limits can prevent back to school anxiety