Helping parents and children to get ready for school

by Helen Victoria Smith

Making sure children have the right opportunities for learning and development in their earliest years so they can be ‘school-ready’ has been a key part of successive UK governments’ approaches to raising educational achievement and promoting economic progress. But concerns around large numbers of children arriving at school without the skills they need to succeed have been steadily growing.

Based on a study in a small town in the East Midlands, my research revealed how mothers of children under five and early years’ professionals understood the concept of ‘school readiness’ and how this shaped what they did. Continue reading

Taking time out to go Scroll Free

by Yvonne Kelly

This week marks the start of the Royal Society for Public Health’s Scroll Free September campaign, encouraging people to take a break from social media.

In 2015, in some of the first research to examine the potential harms of excessive screen time and social media use, we found that children who were heavy users of screen-based media were less happy and had more social and emotional problems than their peers who used it moderately. Children who used social media sites for chatting were also less likely to be happy and more likely to have problems than their peers who did not.

More recently, our work on the trends for boys’ and girls’ social media use showed that 10 year-old girls who spent an hour or more on a school day chatting online had considerably more social and emotional problems by age 15 than girls of the same age who spent less or no time on social media. The number of problems they faced also increased as they got older, which was not the case for boys. The research was based on the experiences of 10,000 10-15 year-olds in the Understanding Society study. Continue reading

Explaining the facts

by Tom Chivers

Recently, I was lucky enough to win the ‘Explaining the facts’ category in the Royal Statistical Society’s Statistical Excellence in Journalism awards. In my brief acceptance speech, I used a quote I half-remembered. I don’t know who said it, but it goes something like this: if you want to fool people, the easiest way to do it is to never teach them what a denominator is. As a journalist, one who’s interested in science and facts and numbers, I think it is something to remember at all times. Continue reading

Power over social media platforms

by Martin Moore

We are at a peculiar moment when governments – democratic and authoritarian alike –  are itching to regulate and legislate the major tech platforms. In the UK in April, Jeremy Hunt gave an ultimatum to social media to better protect children or face new laws.

His threat followed similar ones by Matt Hancock, Theresa May, and before her  David Cameron. And, in the same month as Hunt’s ultimatum, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of Congress for two days of questioning. “Congress is good at two things” Republican Senator Billy Long said then, “doing nothing, and overreacting. So far, we’ve done nothing on Facebook… [now] We’re getting ready to overreact.” Continue reading

The place of prosperity in protracted refugee crises

by Annelise Andersen

Mass displacement today

Today one in every 122 people on the planet is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. Movement, it seems, is the new normal.

Global human mobility has always been a part of human life. But in the past to be a refugee was a short-term consequence of conflict. Interventions aimed at ensuring a right to life for refugees in the short term too.

The extreme numbers of people on the move now present us with new challenges. One of these is how to respond to the rise of  ‘protracted refugee situations’ – refugees that are in a long-lasting and intractable state of limbo for five years or more.

The effects of protracted refugee situations are dramatic. They can contribute to ongoing crises, disrupt strategies that aim to make them more stable and hinder sustainable development in host countries and those of refugee origin. Continue reading