Parents urged to stop children bingeing on social media during holidays

A concern is that children
are consuming time online, instead of developing their personal

Mario Tama /

The latest social media trends can be difficult for even
millennials to keep up with. Nowadays, children are growing up as
“digital natives,” surrounded by technology, meaning they are
predominantly communicating online more and more.

Parents have a responsibility to stop their children spending too
much time on social media, according to the children’s
commissioner Anne Longfield. In an interview with
the Observer
, she said children are “in danger of seeing
social media like sweeties, and their online time like junk

“None of us as parents would want our children to eat junk food
all the time,” Longfield said. “For those same reasons we
shouldn’t want our children to do the same with their online

She added that as a result, parents should “step up” and be
proactive in stopping their children from spending too much time
on the internet during their summer holidays, while social media
companies tempt them to spend more time staring at smartphones
and tablets. For example, she criticised the way Snapchat has a
“snapstreak” feature, which you lose your streak if you do not
continue using the app.

“You find children saying to parents that they have 30 people
that they have to do every day and if they don’t, they drop the
streak, and everyone will see,” Longfield said. “And then — does
that mean they don’t like me any more? It’s almost like chain
letters. There are children who say they can’t not be online, and
I think that’s really worrying.”

Longfield said the concern is that children are consuming time
online, instead of focusing on developing their personal skills
and building real relationships. She added that internet time
should be balanced, in a similar way to a healthy diet.

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

Numerous studies have shown the negative impact social media can
have on young people. For example, earlier this year a survey of almost 1,500
14 to 24 year-olds
found it could deepen feelings of
inadequacy and anxiety.

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