Thursday, March 16th, 2017.

Pupils interview Dr Martin Lee about his ‘No Phone Zone’

Young Excelsior Academy newshounds delved into the hot topics of the day in search of answers to the issues impacting young people’s lives for BBC School Report.

The negative effects of mobile phone overuse, obesity and mental health topped the news agenda for the Collingwood pupils turned journalists for the day as part of the BBC’s hugely successful national event.

Now in its 11th year, Excelsior was one of 900 secondary schools across the UK taking part in the BBC School Report national news day where the network turns over a portion of its news output to young people.

Excelsior pupils also reported from an Excelsior ITT&L EAL teacher training event and examined the ambitious decision by the academy to stage the West End blockbuster Les Miserables in school this year.

BBC School Report Excelsior lead teacher Natalie Bryce said: “We also looked at the importance of British values and how we promote them in an academy which is so multi-cultural and diverse.

“Dr Martin Lee of the Freeman Hospital was interviewed by pupils about the negative effects of using mobile phones too much, their impact on mental health and well-being.

“He brought in a ‘No Phone Zone’ drawstring bag where you put the phones at bedtime, meal times, so that you’re not focusing on them and are spending more time together socially – the children liked that idea.”

Consultant rheumatologist Dr Lee has started a campaign encouraging teenagers to put down their phones, concerned about the impact of their overuse on mental health.

He has set up www.nophonezone.co.uk and developed a parenting aid that allows people to create phone-free areas in their homes.

Dr Lee told pupils: “The reason I got involved is that a lot of the young people I see aged 16 to 25 have problems with feeling tired all the time, chronic fatigue syndrome, problems with mental health, depression, anxiety and chronic pain syndrome.

“Talking to them about their mobile phone use it was quite interesting that they were saying they go to bed at about 10pm, but they may not go to sleep until about 2am.

“A lot of them say they are on their mobile phone during that time, they say ‘yes I turn it off but answer it to check Facebook to see what’s been posted’ so they’ve been woken by their mobile phone.

“They will wake up at 7am and then they are being referred to me because they are very tired and they are struggling at school.”

A recent UK study revealed some children waking up ten times a night to check their phones.

Dr Lee said this behaviour was impacting their sleep hygiene, mental health, physical health and inter-personal relationships with their families.