Young people will have to choose between “trivial nonsense” like Love Island and serious issues like the #MeToo campaign a leading headteacher has said.
Jane Lunnon, head of Wimbledon High School, said both young women and young men will have to pick ‘which camp they are in’.
Speaking at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference’s (HMC) annual autumn conference, Mrs Lunnon said social media and reality TV are “image-obsessed” and send an “unbelievably dangerous” message to young people about body appearance.
She said she had been struck by the way Love Island didn’t just dominate ‘teen consciousness’, but ‘public discourse’, adding: “So what has happened that makes Love Island become something real and significant?”
She questioned what the long-term consequences are of a world that celebrates “something essentially trivial” and encourages “such relentless focus on appearance and the presentation of brand self”.
She said: “We might have to decide which camp we are in – I think we might have to ask our girls and our boys, actually, which camp are we in?
“If we want to be taken seriously – the Me Too debate, hear us, we have agency, we have a voice – can we also be saying this trivial nonsense matters?”
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She added: “And Love Island’s message, it seems to me, is conform and look beautiful otherwise you are not worthy of being loved.
“Which is unbelievably dangerous. And that is what our teens are picking up, of course, when they watch that, but also every time they go online. It is a real vicious circle, I think, in that regard.”
HMC chairman Shaun Fenton said: “I think young people can make choices about their diet of media and discern triviality from real news – fake news from real news.
“But if you overdose on a bad diet, if that is all you are presented with all the time, it is not in their interests.
“It is not in any of our interests to live in a society where we put on a pedestal the type of trivia that isn’t what we aspire to for our children, that isn’t what we think in our better moments we aspire to for ourselves.
“So there is nothing wrong with a bit of light-hearted entertainment at all.”