Should kids use e-readers in bed?

Question: Is it OK for my daughter to read on her e-reader in bed at night?

Answer: Many parents—and kids—like to read themselves to sleep. But falling asleep with a paperback in bed is much different than dozing off with an electronic reader or iPad. Screens can affect sleep, utility cords can be hazardous, and devices can get accidentally damaged if not properly used.

Less than 5 percent of children under age 8 use an e-reader daily, possibly preferring the cuddle time of reading with a parent. If your child does want to use an electronic device, consider these cautions:

1 Set the screen. Reading in a dark room can be tough on the eyes. Some e-readers have backlighting that can make reading difficult; others have book light settings that provide an easier view. Work with your child to increase type size if necessary and make lighting adjustments in the room and on her device so reading is easy on the eyes.

2 Unplug devices. Children should not bring an e-reader or tablet into their bed if it is plugged into an electrical wall outlet or charging on a computer. Kids can get tangled in cords, and power sources that come in contact with blankets or pillows may be a fire hazard. Devices should be charged away from the bed and power cords should always stay out of beds.

3 Set limits to avoid accidents. We’ve all dozed off while reading and been startled awake when the book hits the bridge of our nose. Now imagine that book was an iPad or a Kindle. Electronics with hard edges and metal and glass components can injure children who fall asleep with them in their bed. If your device has an alarm, set it to give a five-minute warning so kids can put their e-reader away before they fall asleep.

4 Unplug early to get a good night’s sleep. Electronic screens can disrupt sleep patterns and cause children to have difficulty sleeping soundly. Most experts recommend dialing down all screens including video games, computers and tablets well before a child goes to bed.

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