Children are growing up too quickly because of a combination of early testing in school, advertising, bad childcare and a reliance on computer games and television, experts warned today.
A group of 200 teachers, academics, authors, charity leaders and other experts have written a letter calling for a drive to ‘interrupt the erosion of childhood’.
They write: ‘Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, they begin formal education earlier than the European norm, and they spend ever more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in outdoor activity.
‘The time has come to move from awareness to action.’
The letter outlines a four-point programme to restore proper values to childhood.
It says: ‘We call on all organisations and individuals concerned about the erosion of childhood to come together to achieve the following: public information campaigns about children’s developmental needs, what constitutes “quality childcare”, and the dangers of a consumerist screen-based life-style; the establishment of a genuinely play-based curriculum in nurseries and primary schools up to the age of six, free from the downward pressure of formal learning, tests and targets.’
It also called for initiatives to ensure that children’s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged and the banning of all forms of marketing directed at children up to at least age seven.
The letter, to the Daily newspaper, comes five years after many of the same experts wrote to the newspaper urging the Government to stop children being poisoned by the modern world.
Their comments led to an inquiry into the state of childhood by the Children’s Society, which was concerned about rising levels of depression among youngsters in the UK.
The group believe ‘the erosion of childhood in Britain has continued apace since 2006’.
They concluded: ‘It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge policy-making and cultural developments that entice children into growing up too quickly – and to protect their right to be healthy and joyful natural learners.’
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