School head calls for action over 'dangerous' pre-teens' social media habits - The Solihull Observer

School head calls for action over 'dangerous' pre-teens' social media habits

Solihull Editorial 21st Sep, 2017   0

A WARNING over ‘dangerous’ and ‘inappropriate’ social media trends among pre-teens has been issued by a ‘deeply concerned’ Solihull headteacher.

Solihull School headmaster David EJJ Lloyd says dealing with the effects in often anxious and tormented pupils is also taking up increasing school time, in Solihull and nationally.

In words that will resonate with many families and schools, he said platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram has put pre-teens at ‘risk of exposure to dangerous or graphic content, unsolicited contact from strangers and interruption of sleep patterns caused by notifications through the night’.

Mr Lloyd also referred to the dangers of the social media condition ‘FOMO (fear of missing out),’ as youngsters face the fear of missing a crucial activity or conversation.

It is despite many platforms supposedly having a minimum age of 13 to open an account, with parental permission.

Mr Lloyd, a head for eight years and a trustee of a mental health charity, said: “There are many benefits of social media and the vast majority of people use it appropriately and responsibly. However, I am deeply concerned about the increasing number of pre-teens having their own social media accounts.

“Not only does this place the young person at risk, but it also creates and fuels avoidable problems for parents and schools.

“Children may accept friend requests from people that they don’t know in real life, leaving them vulnerable to inappropriate contact. Sites are unable to verify their members’ ages, identity or motives.

“Content is often unmoderated and, sadly, young children may be encouraged to post pictures of themselves, which can raise the spectre of sexting.

“It is very much a parent’s decision to allow their child to create accounts of their own, and I understand the pressure which can be applied by pre-teen children as I had two of them. However, my advice is that parents don’t give this consent.”

Mr Lloyd said inappropriate social media usage – and subsequent investigations by his school – often lead to anxiety for both pupils and parents.

He added: “It often becomes clear that many parents are uncomfortable with their young child’s engagement with social media, and several felt they had to say ‘yes’ to their children having accounts because ‘everyone else has them’.

“In addition to this, we have the problems caused by FOMO, a modern condition driven by technology and instant communication. The angst it causes is very real and is extremely detrimental to wellbeing, with young people failing to appreciate the joy of the present and catastrophising about the future.”

Mr Lloyd said Solihull School – a co-educational independent school for seven to 18-year-olds – would continue to take a proactive approach.

He said: “We will continue to do our very best to safeguard children and alert parents when we are made aware of inappropriate behaviour on social media but a considerable amount of time and upset would be saved if, collectively, the parent body joined forces with schools in protecting our younger pupils.

“My advice to parents, based on my experience, is to trust their instincts. There are many very good reasons why pre-teens should not have social media platforms before they are emotionally mature enough to deal with the consequences.

“From my vantage point, a lot more harm than good comes from having too much, too soon when it comes to social media.”


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