Fo­cus on chil­dren, not smart­phones, Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary tells fam­i­lies

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner www.tele­graph. co.uk/ed­i­to­ri­al­com­plaints The Tele­graph, 111 Buck­ing­ham Palace Road, Lon­don, SW1W 0DT

PAR­ENTS must not let their smart­phones, iPads and tablets get in the way of spend­ing time with their chil­dren, the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary has said.

Damian Hinds ac­knowl­edged that the pres­sures of “work and the mod­ern world” mean it is “far from easy” for par­ents to put down their gad­gets.

While he does not wish to “lec­ture” par­ents about how to raise their chil­dren, he said it is a “per­sis­tent scan­dal” that many young­sters start school un­able to talk in proper sen­tences.

He said: “As the vast ma­jor­ity of chil­dren’s time is spent at home, we need to think about how we sup­port par­ents with learn­ing in the home en­vi­ron­ment. This could be seen as the last taboo in ed­u­ca­tion, and cer­tainly no one wants to be lec­tur­ing par­ents. But it is a per­sis­tent scan­dal that too many chil­dren are start­ing school un­able to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively, and we know that what hap­pens at home makes a big dif­fer­ence in that.”

Cur­rently, 28 per cent of five-yearold chil­dren are un­able to read or speak in proper sen­tences, a pro­por­tion Mr Hinds in­tends to halve by 2028.

He will hold a sum­mit this week for tech com­pa­nies, busi­nesses and chari- ties to dis­cuss ways to help par­ents nur­ture their chil­dren’s early de­vel­op­ment. This could in­clude com­ing up with ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies such as songs, po­ems and games that en­cour­age chil­dren to speak and learn new words.

Mr Hinds said that when con­sid­er­ing the amount of time chil­dren spend glued to a screen, par­ents must also think about their own be­hav­iour.

“As a par­ent, I’m also con­scious that while we think about screen time lim­its for chil­dren we find it harder to limit it for our­selves – but that one-to-one time with­out gad­gets get­ting in the way is so valu­able,” he said.

“The pres­sures of work and the mod­ern world mean putting phones away is far from easy but I think it’s an im­por­tant area to talk about, par­tic­u­larly as we con­sider ways to sup­port par­ents with chil­dren’s learn­ing at home.” is a mem­ber of the In­de­pen­dent

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