Heads, deputies and pastoral leads from schools across the South East gathered at Cranleigh to hear experts from the fields of neuroscience, mental wellness and adolescent psychology discuss the impact of technology on the mental health of teenagers.

Earlier this year Cranleigh become the first boarding school in the UK to ban the use of mobile phones for pupils in Year 9, at the same time as providing each pupil with an iPad containing educational apps and incorporating tech-based learning into every lesson.

The conference brought together experts and educators with an interest in the impact of technology on teenage mental health, to share ideas and experiences, to learn from pioneering work going on in this area and to create a network of links and best practice.

Held in partnership with leading mental health charity, The Charlie Waller Trust, the one-day conference featured keynote speeches from:  Clinical and Developmental Psychologist Dr John Coleman; Neuroscientist, columnist and stand-up comedian Dr Dean Burnett; founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates BEM; Clare Stafford CEO of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and Dr Andra Saxel, Cranleigh’s Deputy Head Pastoral. Workshops were led by Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of ParentZone, Claire Eastham, author of We’re All Mad Here, and Sam Cooke, Housemaster.

Drs Coleman and Burnett explained the mechanics of the teenage brain, its need for sleep and help with focussing concentration and its particular susceptibility to the addictive nature of social media apps.

Laura Bates called for schools and parents to open up dialogue about the body issues that can be caused by the perfect world of selfies, and the extreme pornography that is available for children to view on unprotected websites, adding: ‘Either we give them the tools to navigate modern technology, to use it safely and responsibly and to understand the risks and stereotypes it may present. Or we keep quiet, and allow what happens online to have an enormous, unchecked and potentially damaging influence on young people’s self-esteem and their ideas about what sex and relationships look like.’

 Cranleigh will host a similar conference for parents on May 8th, booking will open after the Easter break.