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Parents are “losing control” as children immerse themselves in digital

UK Parents are losing control as their children flock to social media and immerse themselves in digital, new research has revealed.

The survey found children as young as six have social media accounts with the vast majority of parents admitting to having no monitoring software or system on their children’s digital devices, apps and social media networks.

Parents across the UK agree tech and social media are taking over their lives and being plugged in constantly is damaging their children as they struggle to set a good example with their own tech usage.

Individuals are being urged to unplug on Sunday 25 June 2017 from sun-up to sun-down in celebration of the largest digital detox for families and the UK’s one and only National Unplugging Day.

Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist and Priory’s Group Associate Medical Director, said; “I urge parents to use National Unplugging Day as an opportunity to discuss the many good reasons for limiting social media use with their children, and to stress the advantages of ‘talking not tapping’.

“Important emotional skills are at risk of being lost as children lose the ability to socialise in person and begin to think that they can exercise control at the tap of a key, and receive instant gratification in all things. They lose the ability to read emotions and to empathise. Their attention spans diminish.”

National Unplugging Day is asking individuals and families to ditch their gadgets including smartphones, tablets and computers for a whole day to experience life unplugged and getting back to basics.

Parenting experts are giving a stark warning that overuse of digital devices is harming relationships, stopping the young from developing face to face communication skills and teaching children that disappearing into digital devices for hours is a healthy and perfectly normal activity.

The leading parenting website MyFamilyClub carried out a survey in April with over 1000 parents from across the UK and has resulted in some striking statistics. The survey found that nearly half of parents are unaware that the age limit for a social media account is 13 years old, and also allowing their child to have a presence on a social media platform.

Over 15 per cent of those surveyed said their children’s accounts had open or public settings and shockingly over 85 per cent said they had no monitoring or parental control software on any of the family devices.

In addition to the above: 65 per cent of parents surveyed had tried to limit their children’s screen time and were aware that they needed to lead by example by managing their own time; with half of parents admitted not taking control of their children’s digital usage and letting them use tech liberally.

Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg added: “It is also important to speak with your children about the internet and, although it is a fantastic tool, they need to be aware of the dangers that accompany it; just as they must not talk to strangers in real life, they mustn’t speak to them online either. Similarly, they must keep their bodies private online as well as in real life, and not believe everything they read online just as they should not believe everything their friends say.

“If parents follow National Unplugging Day with their children – and parents must switch off their phones and laptops as well – I think many will be surprised at how different a day can be, in a really positive way, without those ubiquitous devices intruding.”

 

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