A piece by Greg Hurst, Social Affairs Editor, in today’s Times. Whenever I’m in my local park in the throbbing metropolis of Bedford – so good, they named it once – I’m struck by how many mothers are fixated on their smartphones, whilst completely ignoring their children. The word “parents” in the article could, with little loss of accuracy, be replaced by “mothers”. Emphases ours:
Parents who ignore their children while scrolling on their mobile phones are setting a bad example, the children’s author Julia Donaldson has said.
Donaldson, whose books include The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, said she found it “very depressing” to see parents neglecting their children.
“I’m quite pessimistic about adults and the way people are always on their mobile phones,” she said in an interview with radiotimes.com.
“People often ask ‘do I think children use gadgets too much?’, but I’m more depressed when I see parents. You often see a parent with the child where the child is trying to get the parent’s attention, with the parent scrolling down and looking at Facebook. I often find that very depressing. I’m sorry you don’t see many people on the train reading books. You can’t read many books on those tiny screens.”
Donaldson’s book Zog, the story of an accident-prone dragon, has been animated for BBC One with Lenny Henry as the narrator and will be broadcast on Christmas Day.
A study published this year found that children in Britain spend an average of only 16 minutes each day playing or exploring in parks and other open spaces.
The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, were the first to examine how children spend their free time and will be used to track engagement with the outdoors and sport.
A separate report on children’s viewing habits by Childwise, a research agency, found young people aged between 5 and 15 were spending an average of two and a half hours a day viewing programmes, videos and clips.
For the first time children were spending longer watching footage on smartphones, tablets and laptops than on television sets, it found.
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