Kids need more/less time online [delete as appropriate]

Here are two headlines from this morning’s Guardian (other news outlets are available):

“Stop children bingeing on social media during holidays, parents urged”

“Encourage children to spend more time online, says former GCHQ head”

Both are equally interesting stories, and both worth a read. But which one is right? On the face of it, they sum up neatly the conundrum that parents face and how difficult it is to boil down advice into a pithy instruction. What are we supposed to do? Cut back or encourage? Screentime – good or bad?

As so often, the headlines don’t tell the whole story. I reckon that if you put Anne Longfield and Robert Hannigan in a room together (the Children’s Commissioner and former GCHQ boss, respectively), they would be in broad agreement about many issues. Anne Longfield’s excellent new ‘Digital 5 A Day‘ isn’t all about digital detox, albeit the ability to put down your device is a key health factor and very much part of the equation. But 1/5 of the digi-pie, she says, is to spend time online to ‘get creative’.

This year, we at LGfL DigiSafe plan to look at new ways to support young people who feel they have to be ‘always on’. There is definitely scope to improve education and resource in this area. But how about that ‘get creative’ pie slice? Let’s encourage the potential young people have to make the most of the devices and apps at their disposal to make music, videos, augmented and virtual reality scenes, plays, artwork, stories, blogs, vlogs, games, podcasts, and the like, or learn about the languages, sports and countryside just before they put down the pad and head out to enjoy them in the flesh.

Perhaps we can have our digi-pie and eat it…

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