19 November 2018
It’s concerning to read today that parents are struggling to get a handle on their children’s tech habits.
New research reported by the BBC shows that 43% of 7,000 parents surveyed across Europe were concerned that tech negatively affects their children’s sleep.
There were also concerns about social skills and mental health.
However, it’s unsurprising. When you really think about it, children nowadays are the first generation growing up in such a hyper-connected world. They have access to everything at any time, and have never known any different.
That’s a wildly different situation from the likes of us who grew up without smartphones and tablets. We have seen the evolution of communication and connectivity. When I was young, I had to knock on my friend’s front door to invite him out to play. That meant I was used to speaking to adults. I was used to communicating face to face. And I was accustomed to risking an awkward encounter if he wasn’t able to come out!
I was also taught, through necessity, how to speak on the telephone, how to problem solve and how to find information for myself. We didn’t have the fall-back of Google or instant messaging apps.
And we had no option but to play sports and be outside. No one wanted to be bored in the house in front of a TV with only a few channels, while your mum watched her programmes. We entertained ourselves and had wild imaginations.
The end of creativity?
That’s my greatest concern. Having everything at your fingertips completely removes the need to be creative. Just as having instant messaging options removes the necessity of interpersonal skills. And having constant entertainment removes the need to go outside and find your own fun.
Now, instead of having to negotiate when children have to come back home, we’re negotiating to get them out of the house and away from screens!
There is no denying the incredible value that being so connected has for young people these days. They have access to knowledge and opportunities we could have only dreamed of. UKFast is working hard to encourage young people to use tech to their best advantage – teaching Code Clubs and working on initiatives like the Girl Guiding badge to help spot fake news and navigate social media.
Our challenge is to help young people find balance to really make the most of the innovation whilst leading healthy, meaningful lives.