Schools should not be left to address the learning gap when it is poor parenting which is at fault, says Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt.
The impact of smartphones is “leaving school kids unable to speak properly, according to Hunt who blamed parents for not speaking to their children more, and instead “scrolling through emails, checking the football scores, ordering on Amazon, and catching up on Twitter.”
He wrote in the Telegraph: “In a communication age, we are in danger of raising a generation speaking and listening less.”
He added: “This isn’t a question of money: every parent can afford to talk to their child. It is a question of culture and understanding. Poor parents are often themselves victims of poor parenting. Most likely, they don’t understand the cumulative impact on scrolling down their smartphone rather than engaging with their 6-month-old.”
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It is estimated that teenagers now spend up to six hours a day in front of some form of small screen.
Hunt advised schools to address this addiction, which could be damaging educational standards and exacerbating inequality. He also noted how crucial the 0-5 years age bracket was for the intellectual and emotional development of children.
A recent University of Derby study highlighted the disturbing downside to our digital obsession. It concluded: “Smartphones are psychologically addictive, encourage narcissistic tendencies and should come with a health warning.”
Research from the Department for Education has also revealed a stark increase in the number of children beginning primary school struggling with speech and those who find it difficult to communicate during their early years are often more likely to struggle at school.
In April 2012, a Europe-wide report called for nurseries to ban televisions and for parents to resist pleas to let children have them in their bedrooms, in a bid to fight obesity among young people.
That same year, Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow that parents need to “regain control” of their households to prevent children from becoming virtually addicted to computers, televisions and other forms of digital technology.