Tag Archives: media

Is technology killing children’s play culture, or breathing new life into it?

Just before Christmas, I was helping out at an after-school play session in a community centre in Tower Hamlets in East London. Eight-year-old Jane arrived, took a plastic mug from the kitchen, sat down at a table near me, and started clapping her hands and the table, and tapping and flipping the cup, in a repetitive, rhythmic routine.

Cup on a table in front of a boy

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Corporate ad campaign embraces risk-taking by children

If you want to be really sure of a change in social attitudes, wait until it is picked up by corporate advertising. With this maxim in mind, I was intrigued to see this new video from the global household products corporation Procter and Gamble.

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Child-on-child sexual violence: are the media – and the Children’s Commissioner – guilty of scaremongering?

Screengrab of Daily Telegraph websiteYesterday’s Daily Telegraph ran a story with a headline that was disturbing by any measure. It read “‘Chilling’ levels of child-on-child rape in Middle England.” The story takes its cue from the launch of three reports from the Children’s Commissioner for England, published yesterday as part of the agency’s wider inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups.

It is hard to imagine a more disturbing crime than the sexual exploitation of children by other children. Moreover, it is plausible to argue – as the reports do – that the problem is at risk of being overshadowed by concerns about other forms of child sexual abuse. Nonetheless, the claim that such crimes are widespread is striking.

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When street play went primetime

Here is the item on street play that was broadcast on The One Show last Monday (24 June 2013). It focuses on the road closure session in Worthing that I described in my post from a couple of weeks ago (and yes, I do pop up a couple of times, flying the flag for outdoor play).

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Is this film the tipping point for a more free-range childhood?

George Bernard Shaw allegedly once advised that if you are going to espouse radical ideas, you should wear a respectable suit. David Bond, director and protagonist of the new documentary film Project Wild Thing, clearly has no time for Shaw’s advice: at one point he appears in a huge squirrel costume, manically leafleting a shopping mall in an effort to switch uninterested consumers on to the joys of nature (a scene that crops up in the trailer at the end of this post).

Project Wild Thing, like Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods and my own Sowing the Seeds report, takes up the challenge of reconnecting children with nature and the outdoors. At the start of the film Bond (channelling Pete, the longsuffering dad in the hit BBC sitcom Outnumbered) tries to pull his 3- and 5-year old kids away from their screens and go outside to play. Faced with stubborn resistance, he appoints himself Marketing Director of Nature to, in his words, “flog the benefits of nature to the public”. (And he really did – I blogged about one of his schemes last summer.)

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News Consumption Disorder: symptoms, diagnosis and cure

Front cover of Daily Mirror with Madeleine storyWhat role does news coverage play in shaping the way we think about the risks children face? Is a diet of bad news really bad for us, and if so, what can we do about it? These questions were on my mind after Monday night’s engaging debate on modern childhood organised by my old employers the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) to launch its 50th anniversary celebrations.

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Two stories about why kids are not outdoors so much these days

Breugel childrens gamesI have written quite a lot about the decline in children’s freedom to play and get around out of doors. The topic is often the subject of media debate. In an effort to raise the quality of this debate, I offer two charts with contrasting explanations for this change. Continue reading