Under fives should be completely banning from using technology without supervision, a damning new report has claimed.
The research, from technology and child psychology experts, suggests companies and schools should be doing more to help protect young people online.
Other recommendations include giving teenagers ‘reputation management’ lessons, to protect their chances of future employment.
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Experts have collaborated to publish a report which aims to support children on their journey through the digital world. The report found that while there is an awareness of extreme risks like grooming and child sexual abuse, other aspects tend to be overlooked (stock image)
The Digital Childhood report, led by the University of Southampton, urges the industry to lay out ‘child-centred design standards’ to improve the response to reports of risk or harm online.
It recommends proper guidance for children getting a smartphone for the first time and encourages schools and colleges to offer more education in areas of technology.
The report also says lessons for teenagers in school should include how to access trusted sexual, psychological and emotional health services.
It has been compiled by a total of 11 clinical experts from institutions which also include the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
Dr Angharad Rudkin, child clinical psychologist at the University of Southampton, who led the report, said: ‘Children and young people need to be supported on their journey through the digital world and should have access to the same privileges, information and rights that they enjoy in the analogue world.
‘A child’s age and development stage and the impact the digital environment can have on a child’s well-being need to be taken into account when we are designing new digital platforms or considering changing policy.
The research, from leaders in the field of technology and child psychology, suggests companies and schools should be doing more to help protect young people online. Other recommendations include giving teenagers ‘reputation management’ lessons (stock image)
‘There are so many new challenges that parents are facing today to do with the digital world that they did not experience themselves when they were growing up.
‘This can make parenting, what can be an already difficult experience, even harder.
‘We all need to take more responsibility – government, parents and clinicians – to ensure children and young people are more informed and supported through their digital activity and we hope this report helps to improve things.’
The report was convened by Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, who said it is essential the government works with tech giants to create a digital environment ‘fit for childhood’.
The paper, launched today at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester, warns 10 to 12 year olds are ‘poorly served by the current provision of online sites and services’.
It adds that young teenagers are ‘particularly susceptible to social pressures’ online.
Baroness Kidron said: ‘If we allow a digital environment that doesn’t take account of the needs of childhood, we reject the hard-won privileges and protections that a century and a half of careful consideration, research and lawmaking across the globe has afforded our children.
‘If we leave things as they are, we denigrate the status of children, and childhood, in the plain sight of parents, media, civil society and governments.’
The report also outlined how, while there is an awareness of extreme risks like grooming and child sexual abuse, other aspects tend to be overlooked.
ARE PARENTS IGNORANT?
More than half of teenagers say they have been victims of cyber-bullying, a study found in October.
But parents are ignorant about their children’s online behaviour and experiences – largely underestimating what they get up to while on the internet.
The survey of 320 teenagers by the Sir John Cass’s Foundation revealed that 53 per cent had had their picture posted online to embarrass them.
However, only a fifth (22 per cent) of parents believed that their child had this experience online.
Nearly one in five teens (17 per cent) reported being threatened online, whilst fewer than 10 per cent of parents believed this had happened to their child.
The report, Beyond The School Gates, was put together by University of Buckingham psychologist Dr Masa Popovac and the Sir John Cass’s Foundation and was based on detailed interviews with 320 teenagers aged 13-18 years and 130 of their parents.
These include insomnia, obesity, low self-esteem and oversharing.
The experts gave the example of sleep deprivation caused by extended tech use affecting concentration, performance at school and general well being.
Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, said: ‘If we’re going to design an internet fit for children, then we must tailor it for their specific needs and capacities as these develop with age and experience.
‘This report is a wonderful resource to help us do exactly that.’