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The independent London newspaper

‘Take mobile phones from Islington school children’

Following social media site concerns, education chief issues warning to parents and teachers

15 February, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Cllr Joe Caluori: ‘Parents are free to give their children smart phones and parents are in charge. But it should be monitored when being used at home’

PARENTS and schools have been told by council chiefs to get strict about children’s use of the internet and social media – and monitor what young people are looking at.

The warning comes after social media site Instagram boss Adam Mosseri pledged to remove images of self-harm from their site, in response to concerns that some pictures led a teenager to take her own life.

The issue has been put centre stage by the father of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old from Harrow who died two years ago, after he said he believed online photos had played a part in her mental state.

Islington’s education chief Joe Caluori said: “There hasn’t been enough clear guidance from the government about this.

“Parents are free to give their children smart phones and parents are in charge. But it should be monitored when being used at home.”

He added: “In secondary schools if mobile phones are seen they should be taken away. In Highbury Grove School where I am a governor they have been taking mobile phones away at the beginning of the day and giving them back at the end of the day. It is a much calmer environment now.”

Last month, Nick Clegg, vice-president of Facebook, pledged to do “whatever it takes” to make its social media platform safe for young people.

The council has been leading sessions in schools to teach children from a young age how to navigate the online world.

Cllr Caluori, who has a child of primary school age, said: “My personal view is that children shouldn’t be using it unsupervised in primary school.

“They are too young at that age to be using mobile phones and social media. Parents of primary school children should be concerned about children’s use of social media.”

He said: “If a teacher becomes aware of a child using social media they should be vigilant about it. Increasingly schools have been banning mobile phones completely.

“Children will have more access and understanding about technology to a level that we are comfortable with, and as parents we need to make sure we are on top.”

Last week, senior medical advisors published guidelines advising parents to ban phones from the bedroom at night and from the dinner table at meal times.

The report said that, while there have been studies linking excessive time on social media to increased mental health issues, it is not clear that using the technology is inherently harmful.

Cllr Caluori said: “When I was at school there was always bullying, name-calling and shaming. But you could leave it all at the school doors, whereas now phones are being constantly used – the stress of that must be overwhelming.”

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