The strictest Headteacher in Britain has asked the government to launch a campaign and shame parents who give their children mobile phones. Katharine Birbalsingh, who founded the Michaela Community School in London, said putting mobile phones in front of pre-school children makes it harder for them to read in the latter stages of life.
The head of the school who is known for her strict behavioural policies at school warned parents that excessive screen time could have negative implications on a child’s social interaction and mental wellbeing.
Addressing an event organised by Policy Exchange, a UK-based think tank, Birbalsingh said “Parents argue they want the smartphone because it’s a great babysitter. You hand the smartphone to the child and then the child doesn’t need looking after. It means that they are no longer able to play board games, talk to each other or make friends or ask questions, or be interactive in a social way. Of course, that affects their mental health.”
She also called on the government to initiate numerous steps in a bid to tackle the growing influence of social media, as some of her students fail to revise for their GCSEs because of smartphone addiction and usage patterns. She added: “I’m telling you, social media is our number one problem, and if the government wants to help schools, that is where they should be putting their money.”
Association of School and College Leaders General Secretary Geoff Barton said: “We need to educate young people to navigate this technology positively so that it is a useful tool rather than a damaging addiction and we all have a part to play in that process. We would support more help and advice for parents, but we do not think that a campaign to shame parents would be the right approach.”