States of Mind week

Students have taken part in so many different events throughout the week for States of Mind from designing characters for an app which helps young people manage their own mental health, to colouring themselves happy, nutrition workshops, exploring their emotions through dance and online safety workshops. It has been quite a week!

Next week will see our mental health ambassadors review their project and begin drafting a declaration for the local authority which will be used to inform other schools in the borough with ideas for wellbeing and mental health.

The flagship event from States of Mind week was our panel discussion, held at Woodhouse College. Over 130 parents and students joined the expert panel: Baroness Kidron, Aimee Bryan, Kathryn Corrick, Holly Powell Jones, Sharmin Ahamaad and Chair, Martin Bright, to discuss issues around mental health and screen use, such as “When it comes to screen and social media, how long is too long? Does time matter?”

Panellists and parents shared their thoughts, suggestions and concerns, and discussed ways to counteract the inbuilt addictiveness of tech and support children in developing good habits. Some students spoke up about the ways that they feel tech improves their lives, such as being able to connect with current friends and find new tribes. They recognised that there are negatives but felt they were outweighed by the positives.

Among the wisdom and advice shared by the panel were:

  • Remember that the digital world doesn’t recognise that children are different from adults, and have different needs. So there is no in-built protection for them.
  • Apps and games are designed to get our attention – but we can choose what we give our attention to.
  • We have rights, and we can challenge the companies that hold our data.
  • Parents are statistically guiltier than children at letting tech distract us, so need to model the behaviour they want to see.
  • Children are actually savvier than adults about separating fact from fiction.
  • Tech is an amplifier – so when you’re feeling good, it can make you feel better, but when you’re feeling bad can make you feel worse.
  • The digital world can be a positive space for young people to discuss things they might find hard to raise face to face or find new communities (for example, LGBTQ groups for students exploring their identity).
  • It’s not all about how long you spend online; it’s what you’re doing that matters.
  • Active participation such as teaching yourself to code (perhaps one hour for every hour spent using it more passively) could be a way to use it more fruitfully.
  • It’s important to be bored sometimes as that when creativity starts to flow
  • Only 3% of children’s time online is spent doing something creative