8 March 2022
I am writing to share my thoughts with you on an issue which I would like to work closely with you on. The covid pandemic remains challenging for our young people and they continue to be resilient and show a positive attitude here in school. I do however believe that the restrictions which they have experienced over the last two years have resulted in a generation of young people who are worryingly dependent on online interaction, mainly through their mobile phones. Mobile phones have many benefits and I am sure you will be aware, many potential disadvantages.
I have had cause over the last few weeks to ‘screen’ a small number of students’ phones and what I found on them was shocking. Images and videos celebrating aggression, violence and anti-social behaviour were commonplace on the small sample of phones that I looked at. These students had access to material that was not appropriate for their age. I know that this is something no parent would tolerate. In some cases, students struggled with the fact that I was actually permitted to look at the content on their phones. I had to remind them that the phone actually belongs to their parents as it is they who pay for it. I am firmly of the opinion that repeated exposure to online images of negativity, discrimination and violence makes us indifferent and less likely to treat these issues seriously if we see them happening in real life. Last week in assemblies I shared my thoughts on this issue with students and stressed how the material on our phone reflects on our character.
As parents, we have an important role to perform in monitoring our children’s online interactions and the contents of their phone. I know that many of you currently do this. I would urge you to ensure that you know the password to your child’s phone and that you continue to check it on a regular basis. Not knowing the password to your child’s phone and not monitoring the contents is like having a room in your home that only they have access to. I know that this is also something no parent would tolerate. Regular checking gives us opportunities to discuss with our children the potentially negative influences they can be exposed to through social media for example. Checking our child’s phone ensures they are safe.
As a parent of teenagers myself, I recognise the challenges of monitoring phones on a regular basis. We can feel technically inept or unsure of how to check the phone’s contents. There are many ways in which parental controls can be set up on phones and if you would like some guidance on this or anything else related to the monitoring of your child’s phone, please do not hesitate to get in touch.