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Late Night Texts? Quashing Your Teen’s After Hours Tech Use

By Jane Parent

For about seven years, we had three teenagers—teens who loved their phones so much they even slept with them. We eventually figured this out when each month, we blew through our text and data limits. Allowing for the seven hours they were in school each day, they were clearly making up for lost time post bedtime by surfing the Web and texting late at night. It was hard for them to get up at 6:30 a.m. because their sleep definitely suffered. Have you ever held your kid’s phone for them and felt the vibrating barrage of incoming texts—all from other teens who are also not sleeping?

Not only was their sleep interrupted by texting late at night, but ours was too. I would lie awake listening for the sound of furtive texters searching for charge cords, dropped phones, suppressed laughter. We got really tired of reminding, arguing, and threatening.

Stopping The Night Text

So we got smart. We went to Verizon’s parental controls. We discovered that parental controls were our allies. For $4.99 per month per account, we set time controls for each kid. We set texts to turn off at 11:00 p.m. on school nights, 12:00 a.m. on weekends. We set an emergency phone number which they could always reach (our cell phones) but turned off all incoming and outgoing phone calls and texts. The phone simply shut down – party over. And guess what happened? They went to sleep.

Problem solved. No arguing, no 2:00 a.m. texting. Completely worth $15 per month to us.

This fix doesn’t address some of the new problems with apps such as Instagram and Snapchat which have texting features, but parents can solve this with one simple step: require your teens to park their phones at night in a central place like the kitchen. In a show of family solidarity, you can park yours there, too.

As long as they’re still in our house, they’ll have to play by our rules. Late night texting isn’t good for anyone’s sleep. And having everyone sleep better is something we can all get behind.

Below is some information on some parental controls and fees, if you want to see what your carrier offers.


VERIZON

  • MONTHLY FEE: $4.99-Per phone
  • REPORTING: View wireless usage, installed apps and which apps your teenager uses the most.
  • CONTROLS: Limit phone use during certain times of day.
    Also offers content filtering to control what kids can access online.

SPRINT

  • MONTHLY FEE: $4.99-Per phone
  • REPORTING: View phone use, including downloaded apps, and when and with whom a teen is talking and texting.
  • CONTROLS: Limit phone use during certain times of day.

AT&T

  • MONTHLY FEE: $4.99-Per phone
  • REPORTING: View online activities, including mail and internet surfing history.
  • CONTROLS: Limit the amount of time allowed on phone. Limit phone use during certain times of day. Block access to specific services such as email, messenger,and chat groups.

T-MOBILE

  • MONTHLY FEE: $5.00-Per phone
  • REPORTING: NONE
  • CONTROLS: Limit phone usage to pre-determined time periods (i.e. 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Assign allowances for minutes and messages, and set permitted numbers for calling or texting.

Jane Parent

Jane Parent is senior editor of Your Teen.