You Can Run and You Can Hide


Are you on Facebook? How old are you and those you connect with most often? There has been a recent slew of press articles about the rise in the average age of Facebook users and the projected exodus of over 3 million under-25s in the UK and US this year.

Reading interviews with young people who are now turning to alternative platforms, I was reminded of a past experience whilst working in Scotland many years ago.

I was asked to consult on a project within an inner city council estate where a fair chunk of money had been spent on a swanky new play area with squishy tarmac and brightly coloured swings, roundabouts, climbing frames etc. but no-one was using it. So I went to have a look, and sure enough, there was a really well-equipped playground, surrounded and overlooked by four tower blocks of flats, and completely empty. 

Presumably the parents of the children who were supposed to be using the playground lived in these towers, so they could easily see whatever the children were doing. No wonder the children didn’t want to play there, they were totally exposed. It’s not a very attractive proposition for a child, to go and play and interact and get on with your child life in a space where your every action is likely to be witnessed by some adult or other looking out of their window. 

So where were they? Playing on the railway sidings which were covered with overgrown vegetation, so they could get on with their own business in secret, of course.

Whether it’s a real-life place to play, an online community of peers, or the hallowed inner sanctum of the bedroom, our children really need a place to call their own. It’s a psychological space as much as a practical one and it should respected.

So, the youngsters will find a new online platform to call their own. Let us not follow, and let’s give them a bit of space I.R.L. too.