We already know kids these days suffer from a greater deal of stress than previous generations. They spend a good portion of their school career taking standardized tests and fill their schedules to the brim with extracurricular activities. Not to mention, hours upon hours of homework. Safe to say, they’re losing out on sleep, which is why some schools want to introduce later start times.
Ridgefield Press reports that various studies confirm that teens would greatly benefit from later start times. In fact, they recommend starting school after 8:30am.
In a letter to the press, Doctor Lisa S. Ipp, the Associate Director of Adolescent Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained:
“The effects of sleep deprivation on adolescents are widespread and serious, including increased anxiety and depression, worsening of ADHD symptoms, poor school performance, increased risk of car accidents, and increased incidence of sports-related injuries and delayed recovery.”
Ipp provides expert testimony all over the nation in support of later start times for students. She says medical research proves that current start times make it harder for a student to achieve the suggested 8 to 9 hours of sleep.
Then again, how can they achieve 9 hours of sleep when society places so much responsibility on their shoulders?
If you don’t believe me, allow Modern Family to explain:
So, students facing around 6 hours of homework a night, on top of several extracurricular activities… yeah, no wonder why teen depression and anxiety is at an all time high. We worked this poor generation to the bone and aren’t even functioning adults yet!
Unfortunately, not everyone sees the same picture. Some schools say the cons of implementing later start times far outweigh the benefits.
Ridgefield’s Athletic Director, Dane Street, claims a later start would reduce overall classroom hours. Street also lamented that students might opt out of sports because they might feel they don’t have enough time.
In addition, he warned that sporting events might directly clash with the new schedule since not every school wants to adopt the same policy.
However, it’s not just Ridgefield that wants to look into delaying school start times.
West Hartford will host a discussion tonight on the same matter, according to NBC Connecticut. That meeting is sure to be pretty explosive with people representing both sides of the argument.
Anyways, although I like to think I graduated from high school fairly recently, the reality is the opposite. I secured my diploma in 2006 and, from what I see in teens today, I definitely had it easy.
I played one sport per season, did the school musical, participated in Mock Trial, took 3 AP classes, and I still finished my homework roughly around 9pm every night. And then I would play on the Internet until, like, 3am. It was pretty great, you guys.
But, I also went to a private high school so the mandatory state testing didn’t affect me or my peers. Also, I spent about 2 hours on homework, max. So I see why I cannot relate fully to kids today.
Speaking of such, teens say their homework drowns them each and every night. Not to mention, they strive for the best grade possible considering they face staunch competition when applying to their dream college. Plus, you know, for those amazing scholarships, too.
Naturally, kids today stay up later due to increased homework demands, standardized testing, and the need to secure high marks. We, as a society, placed a ton of responsibility on them within the past 10 or so years.
College is mandatory at this point, whereas 20-30 years ago, it technically was an optional pursuit.
Also, the amount of standardized tests increased tenfold within the past decade. Don’t believe me? A 2015 study found a student will take 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade.
School performance being linked directly to funding and all that, right? It’s like a new test comes out every year, too. Plus, schools need to stay in line with federal requirements about student achievement, too.
So, that said, high school students have a lot more on their plate than when I did back in 2002 through 2006.
Because of that, they skimp out on sleep to make up for the extra work. It’s an alarming trend that has pediatricians and doctors alike raising more red flags than Soviet Russia.
Since brains technically finish developing after a person reaches 25-years of age, sleep deprivation greatly impacts its growth.
Which, you know, circles us back to what Dr. Ipp warned us about earlier about depression and anxiety. According to a study found by ABC News, later start times greatly improve students’ moods and reduced those symptoms.
With that, starting school later also improved grades and better attendance/performance.
So, do I support later start times? Yes, I do. But only if students continue to suffer under the same intense expectations we as a society place on them.
However, if we lighten up the load, such as the way of standardized testing, I think this sleep problem will go away on its own.
We forget that high schoolers are still kids! Giving them six hours of homework a night, minimum, doesn’t help anyone and just makes the problem worse. Why do they even NEED six hours of homework? Can anyone justify that for me?
Think about it, there’s only 24 hours in a day. A student spends an hour max before school, spends a minimum of 7 hours in school, then 2 additional 2 hours for a club or sport… already they spent 11 hours. So, add a minimum of 30 minutes to change into their at home clothes and an hour for dinner … then that total jumps to 12.5 hours.
Add six hours of homework, they spend 18.5 hours out of a 24 hour day… leaving them a maximum of 5.5 hours of sleep before the entire process starts up again.
You really think that’s fair?
Heck, some advocates say we should do away with homework as a whole! Finland practically abolished homework and their reading/math scores took off like a rocket ship.
Is that the correct solution? In America, probably not. But, there really is no downside of chipping away at the homework load. Heck, at least bring it down to 3 hours a night.
Even I didn’t suffer through that much homework when I went through college and later obtained my Master’s degree.
But I did spend over 6 hours studying for finals, that I will admit. But, then again, that was, like, a week at most.
Anyways, that’s a debate for another time.
Right now, let’s focus on making sure our kids are okay in the brain. As of right now, though, doctors say the have proof that says otherwise.
What do you think? Have we placed too much responsibilities on kids or is that the price of growing up? Let me know in the comments below!