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(Pocket-lint) - An author who has written a book on children's digital habits believes internet and social media use should be part of the national curriculum for UK schools.

It is as important, if not more so, than sex education, he claims.

Speaking to Pocket-lint for the latest episode of the Pocket-lint Podcast, author Robert Wigley, who has worked with the UK government as part of his day job as chair of UK Finance, revealed the findings of his research into Generation Z's digital habits - not least his own adolescent sons'.

The lack of a digital education at curriculm level worries him: "We need to see the education system recognise that children now develop their personalities in an online world," he said.

"And so, just as we give them sex education at school as part of the national curriculum, I think we need responsible internet use as part of the national curriculum too. In fact, I would argue it's a much more ubiquitously necessary skill earlier in your childhood than, frankly, sex education is.

"I think the government has a responsibility here to introduce some kind of responsible internet use education course. And, probably a bit like many schools bring in outsiders to teach sex education, because it's quite complicated - it's sensitive and nuanced - I think this could be the same."

It's not just up to the government to ensure your child is safe online though, there are steps you can take yourself in the meantime: "I think parents need to wise up a little bit about the fact that when we when we engage with our kids, we tend to talk to them about their offline day, we don't delve much into their online day. That's a mistake," explained Wigley.

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"I'm not claiming to be any great parent, but I know if I talk to my son, he'll tell me that he went out and played football, he's in the garden or whatever. What he won't do is tell me what he was doing in the three hours he was on Snapchat and Instagram between 11 o'clock at night and two o'clock in the morning. That's a mistake on my part for not asking him. You can do that, I think, without prying."

You can hear the whole interview, including Wigley's thoughts on possible future digital legislation, as part of the Pocket-lint Podcast episode 105.

His book - Born Digital: The Story of a Distracted Generation - is also available now.


Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 28 May 2021.