How helicopter parents stop their children from learning to cope
London - In our safety-conscious world, children have long missed out on the fun – and occasional risk – of playing outside.
On the plus side, this has seen a welcome drop in injuries.
But it has also, it seems, put them at risk of very different injuries when they play inside: there has been an increase in accidents relating to video games.
And it comes with other downsides, according to the chief executive of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
Ruth Marvel said our culture of "helicopter parenting" means children are over-protected, they don’t learn how to cope unsupervised outdoors and their worlds have become smaller.
She said children were being denied the chance to cope with risk and learn from making mistakes. The ease of accessing information about the dangers of doing things away from the safety of home has fuelled the risk-averse approach.
"We now live in a world where we can find out anything in five seconds and being ignorant is no longer acceptable," she told The Sunday Telegraph.
"As a result, our attitude to risk has changed. The more information you have, it’s almost as if the less acceptable it becomes to take risk. Taking risks or doing something that might not go as we would have hoped becomes almost reckless. Going outdoors without being supervised and someone else taking responsibility for that means young people’s worlds have got smaller and smaller.
"The helicopter parenting experience means a lot of young people’s lives are incredibly curated and if things don’t go to plan or go wrong, children don’t have the experience or ability to solve it for themselves."
She added that this aversion to risk was in stark contrast with the freedom given to children to use social media – despite the many dangers on the web.
Her comments on declining outdoor risks taken by children is supported by NHS data.
There has been a big drop in the number of youngsters admitted to British hospital after accidents over the past decade. About 885 children aged 14 or under ended up in A&E after falling out of trees in 2008-09, while the figure had decreased by 33 percent to 593 by 2018-19.
However, hospital admissions for repetitive strain injuries – often associated with video game use – have increased by 65 percent.
Alarmingly, there was a 432 percent increase – from 305 to 1 623 – in incidents of children injuring themselves through "intentional self-harm by a sharp object".