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Telford headteacher plans digital detox week

Telford | News | Published:

Parents who feel their offspring spend all of their time glued to telephone screens and tablet computers have found an ally in a Shropshire headteacher who feels exactly the same way.

And Martin Stott, head of the Old Hall School in Wellington, said he is planning a digital detox week to try to wean youngsters off their favourite electronic devices.

Although he embraces technology in the classroom, and ensures his pupils – aged four to 11– learn basic programming and coding, Mr Stott said he is concerned that children are growing up unable to read people's body language or facial expressions because they spend too much time concentrating on screens.

He is instead trying to encourage them to find alternatives to technology – such as talking to each other or playing cards.

"When we take school trips or holidays, we don't allow mobile phones," he said. "We're hoping to challenge children to live without their mobile devices for a week."

He added: "You often see children in restaurants with iPads to entertain them while mum and dad chat over dinner.

"It erodes family time and they're missing out on messages from body language and facial expressions from those around them. People watching is a great pastime for many but I think it's been lost to a degree."

Mr Stott said parents had even spoken to him of their desire to rent cottages during holidays with no mobile phone reception or Wi-Fi signal.

The idea of digital detox has already taken hold in America.

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Camp Grounded in Anderson Valley, California, allows no access to phones, tablets, and other technology, with campers also banned from talking about work.

A digital device detox centre to rehabilitate phone and internet addicts has opened in Wales.

"Unplugged Weekend" is nestled in the heart of the Brecon Beacons and runs festival-style weekends to help phone obsessives reconnect with real life.

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