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29.11.2017 | Josephine Lister |

Want To Be Down With The Kids? Give Them Something Better To Do Instead Of Social Media

There is a growing discontent amongst young people towards social media, with 63% saying they wouldn't care if it didn't exist. So how about we embrace a digital detox and give kids something better to do? We explore three innovations which celebrate the positives of getting off your phone.

It’s official. Social media is out. OK, so not exactly – but there is a growing discontent towards social media, even amongst those we assume enjoy it the most – teenagers. Although many people view teenagers as being constantly glued to their phones, they’re not as enthusiastic about social media as you may have assumed. A recent report stated that 63% of children would not care if social media did not exist.

Young people are attuned to the issues with social media, causing greater distrust and a sense of disillusionment. They are also keenly aware that social media exacerbates a fake portrayal of self and is a vehicle to bombard users with adverts. In response to the issues social media raises, more and more schools are embracing the idea of a digital detox.

Take for instance this school in South London, where they actively target the main driver of social media – FOMO (the fear of missing out). Instead they turn the concept on its head, introducing students to JOMO (the joy of missing out). Teachers have been encouraging students to actively choose to miss out and to embrace it! This helps students to see the positives of not being constantly connected so they can build healthier relationships with social media and have time to pursue their own interests and hobbies.

Want to hop on the bandwagon and find ways to help kids disconnect? Here’s three of our favourite innovations which are absolutely phone-free:

Segni Mossi – Encouraging Arts and Dance

Whereas social media can increase anxiety and self-consciousness, Segni Mossi wants to overcome both of these mental inhibitors and boost curiosity and creativity through the means of art and dance. Though many people would find it hard to embrace art and dance due to lack of self-belief or embarrassment, Segni Mossi has specifically designed workshops which stimulates collaboration and innovation, supporting participants to overcome fears that block creativity. Through adopting a sensory approach in a non-competitive setting, learners of all ages are able to explore the common ground between dance and drawing.

Both learners and teachers who use Segni Mossi’s approach are able to build self-confidence and release their inner creativity by experimenting, through discovery and taking risks. Increased motivation, curiosity and communication skills are all very welcome positive side effects of the workshops!

Free Range Kids – Get Kids Moving

One major issue of social media is that we can accidentally spend hours scrolling aimlessly, which reduces time spent on more fulfilling hobbies like the arts or exercise. Whereas Segni Mossi has the arts covered, Free Range Kids can take on the exercise issue.

Free Range Kids encourages children to walk to school and to burst the bubblewrap atmosphere we have around children. The class-based program gets children to walk to school as far as they possibly can. They earn a point every time they walk to school and when they reach a predetermined level of points as a class, they receive a reward – something which is free and carries on encouraging them to move more – such as extra playtime or a planned walk to a nature reserve.

The children negotiate with their parents how far away from the school building they’re allowed to walk by themselves or with friends which helps to relieve parents’ anxieties and increase communication between parent and child, as well as building a level of individual independence and responsibility.

The Outdoor Discovery Centre – Whole School Detoxing

How about a whole school level of disconnect? The Outdoor Discovery Centre in Singapore is focused on building the connections students have with nature to bridge the gap that the distraction of digital can create.

The Outdoor Discovery Centre was built three years ago as part of the Canadian International School in Singapore. It is made up of 15 outdoor classrooms, converted from a playing field, with the learning spaces made entirely from natural materials, with hills and tunnels planted with grass. Being outside for large amounts of time helps to stimulate mental and physical wellbeing, connect the children to their physical environment and to each other – improving their personal relationships.

After their outdoor sessions, children have been seen to have increased attention, imagination, curiosity, concentration and creative problem-solving skills, and there has been a reduction in behavioural incidents too.

Perhaps we all need to look up from our phones and pay attention to the multitude of positive effects that come from a little digital detoxing in our daily lives. It's time to embrace (and teach) JOMO.