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There has been lots of discussion this week about the impact of mobile phones on children and young people, after new guidance from the Department for Education was published for schools. The guidance states that by age 12, 97% of children own a mobile phone, with one in five students experiencing bullying online.

The DfE’s guidance states that “Three in ten pupils cite making and maintaining friendships and their mental health as a cause of worry, anxiety or depression. By removing mobile phones, children and young people can spend more time staying active and socialising face to face with their peers, activities which have a positive impact on wellbeing.”

This view, of social media having a negative effect on children’s wellbeing and mental health, is echoed by other organisations and charities that work with young people. For instance, YoungMinds’s research tells us that 89% of the young people surveyed agreed that social media helps drive harmful behaviours.

With so many children owning a phone and having access to the online world, we have a duty to help support them. This includes showing children other activities and hobbies that support mental health, and supporting children to use technology in a positive, healthy and safe way.

Here are some books that can help:

On a Magical Do Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Age Range: KS1 and Lower KS2

A story about a young girl who just wants to play her computer game, but when she finally goes outside she discovers the magic and adventure awaiting her. A great book to encourage children to step away from the screen and get outside! We love this one so much that it is featured in The Story Project curriculum. We have full lesson plans based around this book, to support children’s wellbeing.

Penguin Pig by Stuart Spendlow

Age Range: KS1 and KS2

Another book that is featured in our curriculum! It is great for introducing the concept that not everyone online is who they say they are. This would be the perfect companion to an e-safety lesson.

Troll Stinks by Jeanne Willis

Age Range: EYFS and KS1

A great choice for an introduction to online bullying and trolls. It follows the story of two friends who decide to send mean messages to a troll…will they realise their mistake and make amends?

Ant Clancy: Games Detective by Ruth Morgan

Age Range: KS2

Got some avid gamers in your class? This book is an adventure-filled gamers delight! Including some important messages about the dangers of too much gaming.

How To Be More Hedgehog by Anne-Marie Conway

Age Range: KS2

We have recommended this one previously, because it’s just so good! It’s about a young girl with a stammer, who is determined to present her thoughts on the class topic in front of everyone. But, when somebody uploads a video of her practicing to the internet, she struggles with the subsequent fall-out. This brilliant story covers themes of online safety and bullying, but also important messages of friendship, bravery and confidence. We think Year 6 would love this one!

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