The BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews has told her children to be less active on Instagram and other social media sites because of the potential dangers of the Internet “Wild West”.
The former Catatonia singer is championing a festival in Wales designed to get children to leave aside their digital devices and spend time carving wood and firing arrows. Matthews is one of the most successful figures in digital radio and said that although she was considered a champion of new media she was worried by its impact on her three children.
“When my children use the Internet, I sometimes think that they might as well be roaming the Wild West,” she said in an interview with Radio Times. “As soon as the kids – who are 12, ten and five years old – leave the house they have access to the most appalling websites on their smartphones and other people’s computers.”
She said she hoped to persuade her children that there were greater pleasures in life beyond the Internet. “Kids today can’t imagine a world without this portal to their alternative virtual planet, but I like to encourage their interest in the real world – in getting their hands dirty, lighting fires, skinning rabbits… It’s a conflict I struggle with.”
Matthews said that she had asked her children to consider whether following certain individuals on Instagram “really improves the quality of their lives”.
Her comments follow a succession of recent stories warning of the impact on children of latest media trends. Police in Scotland have claimed that sexting on mobile phones has become a problem among children as young as 11.
The iRights campaign, a British civil society initiative designed to make the digital world “a more transparent and empowering place for children”, called last month for young people to have “the right to be forgotten” and be able to delete embarrassing digital content from their past.
Fears have been expressed about the dangers to children caused by the modern practice of “sharenting”, where parents habitually post images of their offspring on social media.
Matthews’s warning echoes concerns raised by Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a former marketing director of the social media giant. Ms Zuckerberg is the author of two books on the value of limiting children’s access to social media, including Dot, the story of a young girl who discovers the joys of play when her mother suddenly takes away her tablet, laptop and mobile phone.
The 6 Music Sunday presenter is a big supporter of the Good Life Experience, a festival in Flintshire, North Wales, a family festival which encourages children to sample outdoor adventure.
The Welsh singer recently appeared before the House of Lords Communications Committee to make a passionate defence of the BBC. “In order to get a measure of the importance of the BBC culturally speaking, you have to go away from Britain and spend time in countries that don’t have equivalent public service broadcasting,” she said. “I have spent time in Australia and can report that Australasians are very envious of the BBC. And I have lived in America for six years in South Carolina and five years in Tennessee. It was during those years that I truly felt the true value and the extent of what the BBC gives us culturally.”Reuse content