By Sola Ogundipe
Parents should not encourage their children to take selfies, a leading psychologist has cautioned. Elie Godsi said youngsters must be allowed to play outdoors to escape from the “sedentary world” of mobile phones, computers and TV screens, according to the MailOnline.
The consultant clinical psychologist urged families to give children more freedom, away from indoor pursuits which can lead to ‘excessive exposure’ to screens and social media.
This means turning off mobile phones during precious family time—and not being tempted to take selfies.
In advice to parents, Godsi said: “Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times. In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.
“I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.
“Youngsters should have ‘real fun’ instead of ‘pretending’ to be enjoying themselves for the camera and having to think about what they look like.”
Godsi also warned of a “worrying and increasing” trend for so-called “helicopter” parents to try to supervise and monitor their children’s every movement.
He said: “While this is clearly appropriate for younger children, as they grow older such intense supervision inhibits their development. Mobile phones can become an unhealthy psychological umbilical cord between parents and their children; a balance must be struck between a child’s safety and their autonomy.
“For example, when a child experiences something out-of-the-ordinary being able to phone someone immediately denies them an opportunity to learn to process new experiences for themselves at least until they get home.”
Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together.
Sixty-eight per cent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).
The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.
Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 per cent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.
Sixty-five per cent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 per cent).
Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 per cent) or played in a park (31 per cent).
Matt Healey, head of learning and adventure at Kingswood, said: ‘It’s more important than ever for parents to continue to encourage their child to try new things—rather than just watching the television or constantly surfing social media.