Fife teachers warn of social media anxiety hitting young pupils

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Headteachers in Fife have raised concerns over pupils’ abilities to cope with modern day demands.

They told councillors this week that  nursery age children were showing increased symptoms of anxiety.

The warning came at the meeting of South and West Fife area committee.

Head teachers said  they were aware of – and trying to minimise – outside influences impacting on youngsters, many of whom come from  difficult backgrounds.

One highlighted a pupil being texted as late as 2:00 am –just hours befotre they had to get up to go to school.

John Hutcheon, head teacher at St John’s Primary School, Rosyth, said:: “We are promoting growth mindsets in school.

“We are trying to take the anxiety away by teaching children it’s okay not to be perfect.

“When you are learning, there are difficulties, but you have to jump in and take that chance and give it a go.

“We’re teaching  children that it’s okay to make a mistake, and working on making them more resilient.”

He described the impact of life outwith the classom, adding:  “The environments that some of the children are coming from in their early lives are very complicated.

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“They bring that into the classroom with them. All those outside influences, expectations and aspirations have an effect on the mental well being.”

Councillor Tony Orton raised the issue of the impact of social media on young pupils.

Colleen Thomas, acting head teacher at Dalgety Bay Primary  said: “I would love to sit here and say they have no access to it, but the reality is they do.

“We spend quite a lot of time giving information to parents – and some of it is absolutely  basic, such as not allowing children to take their phones to bed.

“One pupil  told me recently she woke up to 100 texts, and the last one was sent at 2.00am.

“They are in class at 9.00 , and we expect them to be ready to learn. That’s the kind of things we’re dealing with.”

She said they were also seeing, and dealing with, inappropriate language sent by text and added: “Our children are more aware of sexual based language – it’s in songs, adverts, and on YouTube. We’ve really had to work hard to stay on the ball and address these issues.”