Sleep Texting a Growing Phenomenom

We’ve written before about the incredible popularity of phone texting, particularly among teenagers. So we were less than surprised when we heard about a growing phenomenon known as “sleep texting.”

As its name implies, sleep texting is texting while one is asleep. Usually the victim of sleep texting starts out texting while awake, falls asleep, and then continues texting while catching some Z’s.

In a recent broadcast about this phenomenon, NBC News reporters interviewed Dr. Mike Howell, a sleep doctor with the University of Minnesota Sleep Medicine Clinic. Dr. Howell noted that those most likely to sleep text are young people who come to him suffering from sleep deprivation and who are strongly attached to their phones.

When they sleep text they’re not quite awake and not quite asleep, according to the news station, which reported sometimes embarrassing scenarios for sleep texters – such as one young woman who unwittingly found herself texting an ex-boyfriend in her sleep, saying things that made her waking self cringe.

Sleep texting is no laughing matter. Doctors say sleep deprivation – one of the results of sleep texting – can have dangerous side effects such as heart problems, obesity, depression and worse.

To cure patients of sleep texting, doctors prescribe unplugging from phones and other technology for at least four days. During that time patients may feel withdrawal symptoms, but ultimately they begin to feel relief, according to the NBC report.



Unplug and Reconnect Endorses ‘Screen-Free Week’

We at Unplug and Reconnect are proud to endorse “Screen-Free Week,” a weeklong unplugging event sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) during the week of April 30 to May 6, 2012.

According to the CCFC, “Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature and enjoy spending time with family and friends.”

The statistics tell the story of why an event like “Screen-Free Week” is necessary. Children as young as preschool-age spend an average of 32 hours a week viewing a television or computer screen for entertainment – and older children even more time than that, according to the CCFC. This screen time has been linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity and attention problems, and also exposes children to harmful marketing.

“Regardless of whether they are consuming ‘good’ or ‘bad’ programming, it’s clear that screen media dominates the lives of far too many children, displacing all sorts of other activities that are integral to childhood,” the CCFC points out.

We hope our readers will consider joining the thousands of parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, and religious and civic leaders who are supporting “Screen-Free Week” with a wide range of unplugged activities. For more information about this valuable initiative, check out the campaign’s website.

Unplugging Your Kids from Technology

If your children are a little too plugged in to technology, you might have noticed some unwanted side effects. Digital overload has been associated with a host of problems, including attention difficulties, low grades, impaired sleep, obesity and withdrawal from family life, among others.

But there are practical things you can do as a parent to help wean your child from technology overuse. Here are a few ideas:


  • Know how much is too much. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that young children shouldn’t spend more than two hours a day plugged into technology. If your child is spending more than that – and the average child does spend an average of eight hours – it’s time to set limits.
  • Declare ‘Unplug and Reconnect’ time. Specify a special tech-free time of day. Enjoy a meal without interruptions. Plan a family game night. The goal is to disconnect from technology and to find time to reconnect with your family.
  • Offer alternatives. Help your child develop a list of entertaining, technology-free games and other activities they could do by themselves or with the family. Show them that there’s a world of fun beyond the Internet.
  • Get moving. Today’s technology-addicted children are more sedentary than is good for them – which may explain why childhood obesity and Type II diabetes rates are soaring. Encourage physical play – perhaps even a family touch football game now and then.
  • Foster a balance. Establish a rule that technology use must be balanced with other activities. Tell your children that every hour spent surfing the Internet must be offset by an hour playing a non-technological activity.
  • Set a good example. Your children will often emulate your behavior. If you think they’ve become too consumed by technology, make sure that the same isn’t true of your own technology use.

Parents Say E-Books OK, but Print Is Better

While e-books may be on the rise among Kindle-loving parents, there’s nothing like printed books for their children, according to a story appearing in the New York Times on Nov. 21.

In an article entitled, “For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper,” Times reporters Matt Richtel and Julie Bosman reported that parents say they “want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals.”

While sales of digital books to adults are proceeding at a faster-than-expected pace, sales of e-books meant for children represent less than 5 percent of total annual sales of children’s books, according to the Times article.

This is heartening news to the staff at Unplug and Reconnect.

Recently, we reported on the video of the “iPad baby,” a cute toddler who clearly confuses the pages of several magazines with her parent’s iPad. The little girl becomes bored when she can’t manipulate the pages as she would an iPad and soon pushes the magazines aside.

“How valuable can it be for a baby to learn that mom’s iPad, with its flashy moving images, is way cooler than the printed page?,” we lamented.

We’re glad to know that many parents apparently agree that there’s nothing like the printed word. Literally.

Unplugged Toys are a Healthy Choice in the Digital Age

Top 10 Low-Tech Toy Picks for this Holiday Season

What’s on your child’s wish list this holiday season? Chances are it’s something that plugs in, lights up, rings, zings and pings. And chances are they will be able to “connect” with unknown “friends” from around the globe, while oblivious to family and friends sitting around the dining table.

With this in mind, Unplug & Reconnect is recommending its pick of the hottest “unplugged toys” of 2011. These recommended toys, culled from myriad top toy lists of the current season, all have one thing in common – the only plug-in they require is a child’s imagination.

The Top Ten Unplugged Toys for 2011

  1.  What’s not to like about LEGO building blocks, featuring colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, figurines, and various other parts – with themes for every age group? Hot this year is LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts (Age 8+), which lets young wizards build and recreate the battle between Harry Potter and his friends vs. the Death Eaters and Dementors ($116.97). For the younger set, try LEGO Duplo Learning (Age 3+), with big, colorful, numbered bricks for endless hours of learning through play ($24.99). Also promising hours of fun is the LEGO Toy Story Western Train Chase (Age 7+) – roll down the tracks with Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, Bullseye, and Rex while trying to escape from the “Evil Doctor Porkchops ($70.99). Families will enjoy the LEGO Creationary Game (Age 7+), which challenges players to guess what other players have built, charades style ($32.30).
  2. Playmobil is an enduring line of collectible action sets featuring small plastic people and animals – from pirates and police officers, dragons, Vikings and fairy tale princesses – amidst castles, ghost ships, puppet theaters, western forts, and a variety of other settings. Hot for 2011 is the Playmobil My Take Along Puppet Theater (Ages 4+), which lets children stage their own puppet show for the Playmobil characters to act out ($49.99), and the Playmobil Figure Set Furnished School Set (Ages 3+), providing a great setting for hours of play school ($99.99).
  3. Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Doll by MGA (Ages 4+). This season’s “it” doll, the Lalaloopsy were once rag dolls who magically came to life, taking on the personalities of the fabrics that were used to make them. The Lalaloopsy have silly hair that bends every which way, and come with their own hair styling brush, clips and beads. Clothing and accessories sold separately ( $29.99).
  4. Angry Birds: Knock on Wood Game by Mattel. (Ages 5+) A hands-on, unplugged version of the touchscreen phone app, for two to four players. This game follows the same goals as the online version: launch the Angry Birds toward the egg-stealing pigs’ wooden castles to destroy them to advance to the next level ($26.99).
  5.  Real Construction Deluxe Took Workshop by Jakks Pacific (Age 6+). A great way to strengthen problem-solving skills and nurture creativity without a mess! Featuring a real saw, hammer, screwdriver and more, the workshop lets children come up with their own projects and figure out different ways to build them ($24).
  6. Squinkies Cupcake Surprise Bakeshop by Blip (Ages 4+). The hot new toy for 2011, Squinkies feature miniature worlds of imagination. Put a “coin” in a slot, turn a dial, and the fun world of Squinkies begins in the palm of your hand! Once you open the cupcake you will find your own bake shop and hours of fun playing with the Squinkies figures ($29.99)!
  7.  Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright. (Ages 8+). Everyone who plays is transformed into a master storyteller with this pocket-sized idea factory. Just roll the dice and use the pictures that come up to create a tale. A great party game and ice breaker ($6.71)!
  8. Eco-Kids-Eco-Crayons available at (Ages 2+). No childhood is complete without crayons, so why not get them nontoxic and eco-safe crayons? Features six crayons handmade with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts, soy, bee and palm wax ($9.99).
  9. Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set  by Mattel (Ages 4+). Hot Wheels racetracks are always fun. Now take it to a whole new level. Using the wall mount track, your child can expand the world of Hot Wheels and create stunts and tricks up and down the wall ($27.99)!
  10. Magnet Levitation Kit by Dowling Magnets (Ages 10+). Challenge your child to learn about equilibrium and magnetic fields while constructing an incredible gravity-defying train. Designed for older kids who love science, this kit comes with tons of educational components and a comprehensive “how to” guidebook with step-by-step instructions. A must-have for science fairs ($25.95).