If it’s good enough for Eton…
In the 21st century we know that our children face new challenges that could not have been predicted when, as parents, we were children. In this digital age, children and young people go online to connect with friends, and make new ones, to browse the internet for information, chat with others and play games. While there are obvious benefits to this technology, there is growing concern about the addictive nature of social media. It is important that school and home work together to educate our young people about the safe use of the internet and social media.
A recent survey by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) found almost all respondents had received reports of pupils being bullied on social media, with 40% saying they had incidents reported on a daily or weekly basis. More than 9 in 10 said pupils’ wellbeing had suffered as a result of social media use over the past year. School leaders received reports of pupils experiencing low self-esteem after seeing idealised images on social media sites, missing out on sleep because of use, and in some instances social media misuse led to self-harm.
So how can this be tackled? Eton College has introduced a new policy that requires students up to Year 9 to hand in their phones at night. The Headteacher had expected an angry reaction but actually a lot of students felt relieved to have a break from what is often a 24/7 culture.
What can parents do?
- Consider bans on devices at mealtimes and take phones away an hour before bedtime, ensure that devices are charged in a different room.
- Keep an eye on how much time children spend online and ensure it is not interfering with activities such as socialising, exercising, eating and sleeping
- Talk regularly to children about what they do online, what posts they have made that day, who they are friends with and how it is affecting their mood
- Follow your children’s accounts online and have access to passwords to regularly check content
- Remember – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram officially bar children under 13 from having accounts
At school we are tightening up how mobile devices can be used in lessons and during social time. We need to ensure that social time is used appropriately; allowing proper relaxation and ‘down time’ as well as attendance at our myriad of clubs and activities.
Social media does bring benefits but young people must try and maintain balance. Remember “You can’t upload love, you can’t download time, you can’t google all of life’s answers. You must actually live some of your life”.