Today, we at Acorn were delighted to read national headlines highlighting that not only do mobile phones have no place in our schools, but that there are deeply harmful consequences of allowing children to be exposed to such technology.
Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, has gone on record to say,
‘I admire head teachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day…. Studies have shown mobile phones can have a real impact on working memory and fluid intelligence, even if the ‘phone is on a table, or in a bag.’
For the last twenty-five years, The Acorn School has been at the vanguard in protecting our children from the invasive and damaging effects of unguarded access to the Internet and wider media, including the social impact of mobile phone use. Our home-school charter, which strictly prohibits cyber use by children at school and at home, was set down by the school’s founder, Graeme Whiting, a quarter of a century ago and in his own words the result has been that, ‘Our children enjoy their formative years without the encumbrance of cyber, social media, computer games and Smartphones. Instead, they spend these years enjoying face-to-face social interactions, playing with their friends, cultivating their imagination, enjoying free-play and the great outdoors, learning in a technology-free, safe, and low-pressure environment and, most importantly, they spend these years happy and free from the anxieties associated with social media.’
The contrast between Acorn and many mainstream schools could not be more pronounced. Online bullying, the pervasive and demanding siren call of Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and the like, are now being recognised nationally as an exhausting and destructive force on young minds.
According to the Department for Education, 95% of British schools now control the use of mobile phones in some way, but the confusing variety of approaches by schools to this critical issue often fails to deal with other broader issues of children arriving at school having been overwhelmingly exposed to mobile phones, the Internet and gaming technology for many hours outside of school.
So, what is the take-home message from recent headlines? Surely it is a recognition that across the nation a toxic cyber environment is netting and entrapping our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. We, who are privileged to objectively see the damage that is being inflicted, have an obligation to do what we can to protect the priceless gift that is childhood.