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Call us on: 07733 274 522

School’s out for summer; the holidays are in full swing

Endless days ahead. Weeks stretching far into the future. The possibilities are endless . . .

Got much planned?

It’s our hope that bingeing on tablets and smartphones, computers and consoles doesn’t dominate the summer schedule too much.

That word – ‘bingeing’ – isn’t one that we’ve chosen to use in this context (it’s one more often associated with unhealthy eating habits), but having seen it employed this week by Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, it does seem rather apt.

She believes that as children’s internet usage in the UK approaches its highest level ever, young people are consuming time online like ‘junk food’ and that adults need to intervene and ‘step up’ to prevent bingeing and ensure balance.

‘[There is a danger that children see] social media like sweeties and their online time like junk food,’ she said this week. ‘None of us as parents would want our children to eat junk food all the time, double cheeseburger and chips, every day, every meal. For the same reasons, we shouldn’t want our children to do the same with their online time.

‘When phones, social media and games make us feel worried, stressed and out of control, it means that we haven’t got the balance right. With your diet, you know that, because you don’t feel that good. It’s the same with social media.’

It’s now, with school out for summer and the holidays in full swing, that such issues can be intensified.

With days and weeks to fill, it’s little surprise that children and adults alike turn to tablets (and other such devices) and as technology evolves and habits change, this is to be expected.

The internet is an invaluable resource that is central to all our lives and no-one is suggesting it should be cut out altogether. However, is quite clear that there must be limits.

So back to balance and, in this respect, we find ourselves in full agreement with the Children’s Commissioner. Just consider the figures.

Ofcom research has found that the internet has overtaken television as the main media pastime for British children and the statistics do cause concern, with five-to-fifteen-year-olds spending, on average, 15 hours a week online.

To break that down a little further, four-to-eight-year-olds are online for more than eight hours a week, whilst with twelve-to-fifteen-year-olds it’s more than 20 hours.

Too much? It strikes us that the balance is far from correct and that ‘bingeing’ is an appropriate description. The question is, what should we do about it?

The Children’s Commissioner has, to continue the diet theme, recommended a ‘digital five-a-day’, encouraging parents to help children to use their internet time to learn new skills, interact positively with friends and be creative, and we do agree that imposing limits that are too strict (or simply switching off the Wi-Fi) isn’t the best approach.

Setting rules (and sticking to them) is important . . .

But so too is taking a break, doing something different and expanding horizons.

Reading a book. Volunteering. Taking up a hobby. Going for a walk or a bike ride. Climbing a tree. Playing an instrument. There’s just so much else to do.

Endless days ahead, weeks stretching far into the future, the possibilities are endless . . .

It’s our hope that bingeing on tablets and smartphones, computers and consoles doesn’t dominate the summer schedule too much.

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