Page 18 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Technology & teenage mental health conference
Heads, deputies and pastoral leads from schools across the South East gathered at Cranleigh School, Surrey, last month (March) to hear experts from the fields of neuroscience, mental wellness and adolescent psychology discuss the impact of technology on the mental health of teenagers.
Earlier this year Cranleigh become the first boarding school in the UK to prohibit the use of mobile phones for pupils in its first
two year groups (Years 9 and
10). Staff say that the move has proved popular with parents and pupils alike. At the same time the School provided each pupil with an iPad containing educational apps and is incorporating tech- based learning into every lesson.
The conference brought
together experts and educators with an interest in the impact
of technology on teenage mental health, to share ideas and experiences, to learn from pioneering work going on in this area and to create a network of links and best practice. Held in partnership with leading mental health charity, The Charlie Waller Trust, the one-day conference featured keynote speeches from: Clinical and Developmental Psychologist Dr John Coleman; Neuroscientist, columnist and stand-up comedian Dr Dean
Burnett; founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates BEM; Clare Stafford CEO of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and Dr Andrea Saxel, Cranleigh’s Deputy Head Pastoral. Workshops were led by Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of ParentZone, Claire Eastham, author of We’re All Mad Here, and Sam Cooke, Housemaster at Cranleigh.
Dr Saxel said: ‘So much disparate research on the impact of technology on teenage mental health is being undertaken at
the moment. We are embracing technology in all areas of the curriculum but have become worried about the constant use of social apps. Research shows that young people are increasingly unhappy and anxious, and to some degree this can be linked to overuse of social media apps and smartphones. Quite rightly it is a matter of concern for schools and parents alike. We felt there was a compelling need for a conference to address the issues all together.
We will hold a similar conference for parents.’
Drs Coleman and Burnett explained the mechanics of
the teenage brain, its need for sleep and help with focussing concentration and its particular susceptibility to the addictive nature of social media apps.
Laura Bates called for schools and parents to open up dialogue about the body issues that can be caused by the perfect world of selfies, and the extreme pornography that is available for children to view on unprotected websites. She said “For too long, we have attempted to bury our heads in the sand, with some naively arguing that discussions about sex, consent and online pornography risk ‘giving young people ideas’. But the reality is that they are already exposed to such ideas, perhaps to a greater extent than many parents and teachers even realise. Either we give them the tools to navigate
modern technology, to use
it safely and responsibly and
to understand the risks and stereotypes it may present.
Or we keep quiet, and allow
what happens online to have
an enormous, unchecked and potentially damaging influence on young people’s self-esteem and their ideas about what sex and relationships look like.
“Young people need all the support and guidance they can get to navigate this terrain. We are currently living through a unique moment in history, never experienced before or again, in which a generation of non-digital natives is parenting and educating a generation of digital natives. The gulf in experience and understanding that this presents should not be underestimated. Sharing knowledge and strategies to approach these linked and complex issues has never been more important.”
Making money grow
 Year 6 pupils at Exeter Junior School are celebrating a record year of fundraising for good causes through their involvement in the Virgin Money ‘Make your £5 Grow’ scheme.
In small groups, the pupils dreamt up, designed and made products to sell to their peers as part of their Independent Maths Project 2018, raising over £2000.
The profit will be divided evenly between Sport Relief, Cancer Research UK, Dementia UK and The Mardon Centre, Exeter, with one fifth going towards fun maths games to enhance pupils’ learning.
Maths Coordinator Jacquie Barnes said: “All our pupils made us
truly proud with their superb selling techniques, stamina, team work and excellent customer service. Pupils from across the school visited each stall over break and lunch time, armed
with their pocket money and a personalised bag, and very much enjoyed the range of items and activities available. Whether it was treasure hunts or traditional skittles, delicious fruit smoothies or bath bombs, hilarious grass heads or snow globes, how many goals they could shoot or trying
out lucky dips, apple-bobbing or squeezing stress balls, slurping fruit smoothies or picking up
fabulous gifts and cards for Mother’s Day, there was something for everyone!”
 18 Independent Schools Magazine
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