Middle class children being 'raised in captivity' by tech-dependent parents, leading psychologist warns

Mike Wright
Prof. Tanya Byron said she was treat more children from 'privileged backgrounds  - PA

Middle class children are being "raised in captivity" and suffering more mental health issues due to a reliance on technology, a leading psychologist has warned.

Professor Tanya Byron, a former Government advisor, said she is seeing “more and more” children from affluent backgrounds seeking clinical help.

She said that such children were allowed so many tech devices by their parents that they were being pushed to do their “risk taking” online.

Speaking at the Parent Zone Digital Families Conference, Prof. Byron said it was the children she treated from “privileged” and “comfortable” backgrounds, that were more likely to be “teched-up”.

She said: “It is an interesting correlation that children from aspirational families who are cosseted and protected - kids who have all the technology they want and whose radius of play is reduced that they are being raised in captivity so their risk-taking will be online - these are the kids that we see are also at risk. 

Prof. Tanya Byron, who wrote the groundbreaking 2008 Byron Review for Gordon Brown's government Credit: Eyevine

“These are the ones that are really presenting quite significantly.”

Prof. Bryon added she did not see a direct link between social media and children’s mental health issues.  

Her comments come as the Government is planning to impose a new statutory duty of care on tech companies to better protect their users, a measure the Telegraph campaigned for.

Under current plans, the legal responsibility will be enforced by a new online regulator. 

In 2008, Prof. Byron wrote the Byron Review for Gordon’s Brown’s government, a groundbreaking report on child online safety.

During her keynote speech, she expressed frustration at the lack of progress there had been on online safety measures since her report and said it would take at least two years to set up a new regulator.

She added: “I would suggest a shadow regulator now to start looking at things.” 

Prof. Byron also warned that parents could not rely on the Government alone to keep their children safe online and that they needed to “set boundaries” for their technology use.

She added: “I think there is a whole lack of boundaries with a generation of parents who want to be their kids' friends. 

“The number of times I hear parents saying ‘I can’t get the phone off them, oh but they’ll get angry with me’ - well, welcome to being a parent.”

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