Local Pediatrician Says ‘Fortnite’ is Causing Kids’ Sleeping Problems

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Earlier school start times aren’t the only reasons kids are having trouble waking up in the morning. Managing your child’s sleep schedule can be difficult at the beginning of the school year.

Dr. Nathan Boonstra, a pediatrician at Blank Children’s Hospital said kids need different amounts of sleep depending on their age.

  • Kids 3 to 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
  • Kids 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours.
  • Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.

There are a lot of reasons why kids don’t get the amount of sleep they need, family schedules, different activities, homework. But Dr. Boonstra said one of the biggest reasons is screens. Cell phones, video games and TV can have a big impact on what time kids go to sleep as well as their quality of sleep.

He has three major rules regarding screen time and sleep:

  • No screens for 1 hour before bed.
  • Keep screens out of the bedrooms at all times.
  • Make sure content is age appropriate.

“Just like watching a horror movie, if you’ve ever laid awake thinking about 'Paranormal Activity,' wondering what’s going on in your house in the middle of the night, kids will do that too if they’re playing 'Five Nights at Freddy’s,'” Dr. Boonstra said.

If you are unsure if some media is age appropriate, Dr. Boonstra said there is a resource called commonsensemedia.org. you can enter in any kind of movie or video game or book and see what it is about and what age they recommend viewing that content.

One video game in particular has families coming to the clinic with concerns about sleep. Dr. Boonstra said a popular video game called Fortnite is keeping kids from falling asleep.

“There are definitely games that are addictive, this summer a lot of kids were playing a lot of Fortnite and playing it well into the night. I heard a lot of stories about that this week as kids were going back to school and coming to see me in clinic,” Dr. Boonstra said.

He said putting limits on screen time is important.

“Sometimes that’s not easy to do if they’ve been playing video games for six or more hours or 10 or more hours sometimes you have to do baby steps to crank that back,” Dr. Boonstra said.

For those families that struggle with limiting screen time there are online resources like the ‘Family Media Plan’ that can help you plan out healthy media and screen habits.



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