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Children’s Commissioner launches ‘Digital 5 A Day’ to help keep children’s online lives healthy

This week the Children’s Commissioner for England launched a ‘Digital 5 A Day’ to help keep children’s online lives healthy. It provides a simple framework for families to guide their use of technology to promote children’s wellbeing and help children use technology responsibly, respectfully and creatively.

Taking the NHS’s evidence-based ‘Five steps to better mental wellbeing’ the Digital 5 A Day applies them to online activity.

The 5 A Day advice is:

  1. Connect: Message, have fun and play with friends and family both online and offline.
  2. Be active: Take some time off and get active - movement helps boost emotional wellbeing.
  3. Get creative: Don’t just browse the internet but use digital tools to create content, to build new skills and discover new passions.
  4. Give to others: Be positive online, report bad content and help others to balance their own 5-a-day.
  5. Be mindful: If time online is causing stress or tiredness then take some time off and ask for help when you need it.  

Hannah Broadbent, Deputy CEO of Childnet, one of three partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre, comments on the 5 A day guide:

It is essential that we empower children and young people to make the most of the positive opportunities offered by digital technology, while helping them to navigate the risks and pressures they may face online. Cultivating healthy relationships is a crucial part of this, whether that is using technology in a balanced way, or developing healthy relationships with peers based on kindness and respect.

This guide has been developed for parents and children following concerns from parents about the amount of time their children are spending on smartphones, tablets and consoles. Often parents and carers can lack confidence on what their children are doing online, and are unsure about the approach they should take when managing their children’s activity. These concerns are often increased during the school holidays.

The online launch is the beginning of the 5 A Day campaign and over the coming weeks and months the Children’s Commissioner will be developing new resources to give to parents, children and schools, as well as working closely with young creators on YouTube and other social media channels to help reach youth audiences and stimulate debate.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

I hope this 5 A day guide will encourage parents and their children to talk about how they can use the internet and technology positively, creatively and mindfully, and that it acts as a basis for family agreements about internet and digital device use throughout the summer holidays and term time.

Further advice for parents and carers