Sunday, 12 November 2017


It's chilly enough now that whenever I leave the sofa, a child or a dog slips in behind me and steals the warmth. Even more so if there's a hot water bottle. I have been ousted from the cosy spot I had and now I'm on a hard chair at the dining table. Fear not, I shall oust them back very shortly. The middle child and I got quite breathlessly excited about the idea of an electric blanket just now. John Lewis have one made from Alaskan Huskies. I don't think I shall buy it. More Stuff, you know how it is. I was reading an article today about how we should be happy with what we have and mend things. Mending is very big around here. Broken things are even bigger. I just discovered a broken lampshade in the middle boy's room from the last time he played dens with the littlest boy. Couldn't be too cross, I do like the simple happy games they play together.

Social media is making me anxious here. Not the being on it, more the idea of it and what it might be doing to children. I am being pressured and I am holding firm. Here are some of the things I have read this week, and without going looking for articles, they just fell into my view from one source and another:

Instagram was rated the worst platform for mental health and wellbeing in a survey of 1,479 young people. It has been associated with anxiety, depression, bullying and fear of missing out. Snapchat was fourth from the bottom, then Facebook. Twitter was second and Youtube was highest rated, and the only one felt to be positive overall.

In a study of 1,200 teens, half said they are addicted to their devices. 78% check them hourly. 72% feel they have to respond to texts and emails immediately. 52% felt they spend too long on their devices.

It is common to have more than one screen at any one time. Focus is a problem. Multi-tasking can't be done, it's a myth. The brain has to try and flit quickly from one thing to another. Empathy can be lacking, and some children are finding it harder to connect with each other offline.

A 2015 report found that 5-16 year olds spent an average of 6 and a half hours a day on various devices. For teenage boys it was an average of 8 hours.

Sean Park, co-founder of Facebook has said in an interview that it was designed to appeal to human weaknesses, compelling users to check for new messages, to seek likes, to respond to notifications. Brain hacking if you will.

A quote from him, "Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google ... produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long-term. Users fail to recognise the warning signs of addiction."

It scares me. It all scares me. I haven't come here to lecture or to rant, just to share what's been on my mind lately. I have my share of screentime. But I really want the children to have fun In Real Life.

Anyway, I hope that wasn't too heavy. Just what I'm mulling over right now. At the moment, books are being read here, trees are being climbed, life is being lived. I know things will change, but I'm hoping for a little more of the good stuff first. You know, childhood.

One final thing, John Lewis don't actually have an electric blanket made from Alaskan Huskies, I would hate to start something. It just looks like it is. I think.


  1. Oh my I’m laughing and crying in equal quantities. I too worry about youngsters today. Everywhere you go they seem to be walking along staring at a screen of some sort. Not good. Human interaction for real is a thing of the past, can only be done using technology. Something will have to give eventually! Glad your boys can still interact and play together. Long may it last. I’m off to look at that electric blanket lol. B x

  2. I can only speak for myself but when I stopped using social media, I got much happier. I know it's really fun for many people, but I'm not one of them. It really just brings me down. I guess it doesn't work for my already anxious, worried and paranoid personality. My kids are a bit young still for SM, but it's creeping in. I've been annoyed lately because my daughter's teacher has started them using Google Classroom to keep track of and submit their assignments. It has a chat function and the kids can ostensibly work together through it. Instead, they're chatting about nonsense and sometimes being a little rude to each other. These are kids between 7 and 9 years old, mostly. I really don't want my daughter involved in this. I need to see if the teacher can help me disable the chat function on her account. She doesn't participate (I sternly told her she is not allowed), but I can see it happening eventually because of peer pressure and I don't need this in her life yet. Just really annoyed that this has come about already, I thought writing down assignments and bringing them back finished seemed perfectly fine...

  3. I'm so pleased you cleared that up about the electric blanket as I was quite alarmed. But not so alarmed as I am about all those statistics. I have always felt that social media does not help my youngest son's mental health but at 25 years old I cannot tell him what he can or cannot do.

  4. My husband is always cold. I got him a great electric 'throw', smaller than a blanket, that he could snuggle up with in his fave chair. He just couldn't get used to it and it sits in a closet. I wish the postage wasn't a killer, I'd send it to you. I think I got it at Amazon for about $40.

    Speaking of John Lewis, I'm reading a novel set in Glasgow, and the protagonist mentioned the store. Never heard of it until today and now you mention it!

    I hear you on the electronics. It took me a long time to decide to use even Pinterest, and now I just use it mostly to keep recipes. I cut Facebook down to about 40 people, just family here and yonder. I like Instagram as I blog so infrequently, I get tidbits out and can announce when I have a blog posted. I must admit I get crazy with one of my daughters. She has her phone out 80% of the time we are together. I made some headway with her and threatened to stop going out with her. Now, her current job requires her to check every message and voicemail constantly. I do get annoyed. We never finish a conversation!

    Very cold here, 30 degrees but we are going to get up to 50 later this week. Oh, and lots of rain. :(

    Jane xxx

  5. With two boys who’ve more or less come through teenage years I hear you on the screen time, but will hold out a glimmer of positivity for you- F is a Facebook fan and is a pretty well adjusted, empathic and a kind young man while L has a strong healthy friendship base made up of people he plays teamwork-based games with on line. Show them how to be sensible and trust them, keep a gentle eye on it, and they won’t go far wrong. We have good conversations over the dinner table, then they go off to do they’re own thing so I don’t agree that young folk don’t know how to communicate well anymore. You know your boys are decent sensible lads, and they have good parents who are teaching them about life well. Addictions and a sense of inferiority or superiority have always existed in humans, this is just the modern expression of them. We can’t hide from it, we just have to help show them the way through xx

  6. I am glad the Alaskan Huskies are save for now :-)

    I have some hope for you, too (just like CT above). We are pretty relaxed with what social media our children engage and we place a lot of trust in them, so far we've not had any problems. I think it has a lot to do with parenting well and leading by example. We sit down at the dinner table and chat, we talk about social media, we voice concerns when we feel it is necessary and neither Richard nor I addicted to our own devices. Social media and devices are here to stay and I think if we have boundaries and rules with regards to appropriate use and good role models, problems can be avoided. I totally understand your worries though and I see entire families glued to their devices when they really should be talking. Lots of children are exposed to social media when they are not emotionally ready and it is really not surprising if vulnerable children develop serious problems. We have a couple of teens in our camping group that absolutely have to have internet access at least once a day to keep their snapchat challenge going.... Of course we have no control over other children's formative years and maybe we should be more critical of friends when we see they are a bit too much in thrall of social media.

    Sometimes, sadly, even the most nurturing childhood and young adult environment does not prevent depression, anxiety and addiction. I find that really frightening.

    To end of a cheerful note, I love the photo of Bertie on the bookshelf. A learned dog no doubt. Wishing you a lovely week xx

    1. He is guarding the books! Thank you for your lovely comment. CJ xx

  7. Social media can become addictive but how do they fit in so many hours and school. Texting under the desk? Of course there is a positive side too like making the world a smaller place and connecting to other nationalities.

  8. It's on my mind too. I am spared the problem personally because I never got properly started on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest or Twitter, but I feel more and more sidelined by other people's use. 'Real Person here! I say. Look up. Speak to me. No, stop glancing down at your lap. . . I would like the phones banned on Christmas Day at least but I don't think they'll manage it.

  9. A somewhat thoughtful post and lovely pictures. I've always been one for make do and mend.
    I like Twitter and probably spend too much time there, don't much like Facebook and I'm not on Instagram. I suppose like most things there's good and not so good. xx

  10. Rant away CJ. I'm right there with you! Since my daughter is only 5 year old, I don't have any pressure from her yet, but I make it very clear that computers are tools and that her father and I use them for "work" - we don't just sit there and veg out. I do not feel that life is any better with all of these screen devices and I actually think it some cases it has made life worse (your stats above hint to that). Especially with kids, they should just be experiencing and enjoying life - staring at a beautiful sunset on a computer is not the same experience as actually standing outside and watching the sun "paint" the sky.

  11. I read the same article as you from the Co-Founder of Facebook, I'm glad my children were at the end of their teens when social media really took off. Well done to you trying to stand firm, carry on with creating and encouraging those special moments for your boys. Sarah x

  12. i share your concerns...and am thinking a lot about this sort of thing too. i even have a blog post in-draft about it...but NaNo so not moving too quickly with much else.

    i don't think we can be cavalier and hope-for-the-best about these media is designed to manipulate our brain function, very much neuroscience-based and i find that to be incredibly insidious. i don't see how young people can be expected to develop healthy boundaries when their brains are still very plastic and vulnerable...

    ...ack! will stop now as i'm prone to ranting on this subject!!

    stay warm! xoxo

  13. It shows you are a good parent to be concerned about all these things. Our grandsons are 8 & 9 and their best friend has an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro! He's 9! So now they want one of each. But my son and dil are taking things very slow and they only have a kindle for approved games and those they only get to use for a certain period of time. I check FB during my morning coffee but I don't care how many likes I get and I only post a comment every other day or so.. moderation in all things is my motto. LOVE the photos of Bertie.. he is getting more handsome by the day! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  14. I'm so glad not to be there with my little ones yet, but I'm already dreading it. I had essentially an exited attack last week over what I've shared of my own kids online. I went through my blog and changed their names so that there is more anonymity for them like you have done for your sons here. I want to believe these apps can be used for awareness, sharing joyful occasions, connecting with people around the world, seeing different perspectives, but it does scare me to think how much screen time I myself use now. I worry I look back someday and regret it. I hope you get your cozy spot back!

  15. I'm dealing with this issue right now. We held out for quite a while, alas, here we are. Like many different things in parenting and childhood, I see different friends and different children have different issues or non issues with it. I think what works for one family backfires in others. I don't have answers. I just have decided to focus on what the priorities are. Are you getting acceptable/expected grades? Are you maintaining your in person relationships? Are you still participating in activities offline? Football, music etc.

    For me it's such a strained age. We cannot distinguish if we are arguing about an actual point or just an age appropriate/personality power struggle. He wants his independence, but still struggles to complete tasks without guidance or reminders (I suppose this is why we must parent and endure the teen years, ha!). Prioritizing and time management are things I still drive.

  16. I'm not surprised at those statistics, Claire. I think it's true for both adults and children, so easy to engage with social media at the expense of the real world. Maybe it's a symptom of becoming so disconnected as a society and a human need to be in touch with others. My son, now grown up, used Facebook but not to excess. I regret introducing a playstation/Xbox to the household as it became quite addictive at one point once he had headphones to connect with team-mates online. (He was in late teens by then.) I bought it because all his friends had one (peer pressure) and I didn't want him to feel sad/frustrated at missing out. Luckily he and his friends like to meet up outdoors and then spend hours on the heath or at basketball so there's been a balance. I've kept a close watch on things over the years for exactly the reasons you outline - and that's all we can do as parents, protect our children. Sorry, that got a bit heavy but good to get everyone talking - well done, Claire, I think you and your boys will do well. And the dog helps, of course! :) Caro xx

  17. I hear you. It's very worrying. Bella is the only one in her class not to have a phone but we've talked about her having one when she starts secondary school. I do think it's possible for teens to use social media in a healthy way, but perhaps quite strict parenting and rules are needed around it, like not taking phones to bed or something. Balance is key. Keep climbing trees!