8 September 2022

I was recently at a well-known local restaurant, waiting to collect a take-away. I could not help notice a family sitting at a nearby table, a mom and dad, and two children (around 11 to 12 years of age). To my dismay, both young children sat engrossed in their tablets, whilst mom and dad chatted away. Once again, I was reminded of how technology has invaded our lives, and of the sad reality, that in many cases, we have become slaves to the devices around us. How sad that a wonderful occasion, such as a family meal, should be overruled by an unhealthy obsession with a screen. Some may argue that at least the parents had a chance to chat, and the kids were happy – that response says a great deal about where we are as a society. I am immensely concerned about the dangerous amount of exposure that so many of our young people have to screens, and the concerning avenues that they lead down. The age at which our children are being exposed to various forms of social media is getting younger and younger, and the amount of time that they are spending on social media is growing exponentially. There is no doubt that our younger generation is facing a threat of mammoth proportions by way of the technology around them, and that unless we, as the adults guiding and mentoring them, take urgent action, this threat will wreak havoc for many years to come. Many might state that I am being overly dramatic – clearly the accidental deaths of a number of young people around the world who participated in a “TikTok” “Blackout Challenge” prove otherwise. Almost on a daily basis, we encounter the disturbing consequences of our young people having uncontrolled and unsupervised access to various forms of social media. This may be due to a number of reasons, but regardless of the cause, the consequences of such exposure are always damaging. Children are unable to interpret and comprehend messages from social media sites containing graphically explicit content. They are neurologically not developed enough to discern and to digest such material, and their young minds are able to absorb all that they see and hear, but are unable to safely understand and discern that which they are exposed to. It is common knowledge that social media can be extremely addictive, and also robs our children of vital time that should be spent on child centred activities. Children as young as 9 and 10 are been given their own smart phones, and often have very little restrictions placed on them in terms of social media access. Quite frankly, this is unacceptable and borders on neglect. So what are we to do to stop this wave that is engulfing our young generation? It is imperative that we collectively take a stand and assert our parental authority where it is so desperately needed. To argue that our lives are too busy and that we can’t cope with the stress of managing our children’s screen time, does simply not cut it. If urgent sacrifices need to be made to put measures in place to control our children’s use of technology, then surely such sacrifices are worth it. As a school, we empathise with parents raising children in this digital age, and we understand the myriad of challenges that technology causes a parent to face. Our role is to work in partnership with parents, and to provide resources and support so that our precious pupils can be mentored and nurtured in a meaningful and positive manner. It is however critical, that every parent realizes that laying down firm and non-negotiable boundaries in terms of the use of technology starts at home. It is our hope that every parent will take this responsibility seriously, and put measures in place to ensure that their child is exposed to technology and social media in an age appropriate manner. Just as much as a chemical that has addictive potential is controlled by a medical prescription, and is kept under lock and key… so too should we as parents be controlling and restricting our children’s access to technology. Over the next few weeks, we will be making various resources available to parents, which will hopefully assist in understanding the technological and social media threats faced by our children, and provide guidance in terms of laying down healthy boundaries. These resources will be distributed via the class WhatsApp groups, and the D6 Connect App. As a start, please see the list of resources at the end of this blog. It is my sincere belief that one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing, and emotional health of our young people is the dangers of over exposure to various forms of technology and the unrestricted access to social media platforms. Technology and social media programmes have many positive attributes – of this there is no doubt; however, unguided and unchecked use by a young mind, will lead to devastating consequences. As a Clarries Family, it is my sincere hope that we will, together, educate, equip and lead our children through this mine field, so that they emerge as healthy, wholesome and happy young adults.

Additional Resources:

1. The Digital Law Company: A guide to the Google Family Link App – an easy to use and comprehensive tool to manage your child’s device:

2. The Digital Law Company: A parent’s guide to apps and social media:

3. Focus on the Family: Your Teens Need You, Not More Screen Time: