Recently I attended a meeting with the UK Parliament Education and Engagement Service. The other attendees were parents, nurses, teachers, youth workers and carers all of varying age demographics.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the impact on young people regarding:
- Social Media/Screen Use
- Energy Drinks
Both subjects have quite an impact on my coaching students across all the schools that I work in so I was pleased to be included in the debate.
The meeting was led by the chair of the Science and Technology select Committee, Norman Lamb (MP). What Norman and his team wanted to find out was:
- What age groups are drinking these drinks
- Is it a common practice amongst the British public
- Do people know the difference between energy and fizzy drinks andthe caffeine content
- Should there be an age limit on purchasing these drinks
- What are the effects of these drinks on young people under 16
- Is there a link between energy drinks, online gaming and behaviour
- What is the public perception around the marketing of energy drinks
- Is the marketing more appealing to under or over 16’s.
Social Media/Screen Use
- Do the benefits of social media/screen use outweigh the possible harms
- Are fears about social media overblown
- Should there be an age limit for social media
- What do young people use social media for
- Are there any well-being benefits from the use of social media
- What measures are used to police the time young people spend on social media
- Should the time that young people spend on social media/in front of a screen be monitored and if so by who
- What measures/controls are needed around screen use/social media for young people
We agreed a set of recommendations from the meeting, which were:
- Energy drinks should be treated like alcohol and not sold to anyone under the age of 18
- Energy drinks should not be allowed in school
- Education around energy drinks to be included in PHSE
- Parenting Guideline to be produced for social media/screen time
- Introduction of life skills in school to enable young people to deal with negative impact of social media and build resilience
I have certainly been asked by parents in both my school and private coaching work about ‘what is an acceptable amount of time’ for their children to spend in an evening/weekend gaming or on screens. This suggests that a government or educational guideline would be useful for some families.
Over the four and a half years that I have been coaching young people, I have certainly seen a change in my students behaviours and personalities as they come to work with me. It is very noticeable when they have had an energy drink or even smoked a chemical substance on the way to school. This is where I feel the environment for young people is so different to when I went to school. Combine that with constantly changing technology, multi-tasking and academic pressure and it is no surprise that the mental health figures are rising.
I am glad to see that there are conversations taking place regarding young people and their environments. I look forward to finding out the outcomes that UK Parliament and Engagement Service take forward to hopefully improve things for our young people.
If you know of a young person that would benefit from coaching or mentoring then please contact me.