A NEW group of children are the stars of Channel 4’s The Secret Life of Four-Year-Olds which returns for another season.
The flagship show is now in its sixth series, and the first episode follows Iris, Kiera, Archie, Max, Arthur and Na’Shae and their classmates as they embark on new adventures.
The first episode focuses on technology, and despite not being old enough for school the children have four laptops, five tablets and five games consoles between them.
As well as all the usual fall-outs, games and friendships, the new group of children are masters of technology, with the youngsters already naming Fortnite as one of their favourite games to play.
Most parents will sympathise with the struggle of tearing their children away from screens, whether it’s phones or tablets.
Kiera admits she asks for “another five minutes” when her mum tells her she’s had enough, while another reveals they got an iPad for Christmas, and if they had to choose between playing on a tablet or drawing – they all choose tech.
Revealing exactly what they love, Na’shae says she can: “Watch Netflix on it and it has games.”
And Kiera adds: “I can play games, watch YouTube, and then I put in the charger, all by myself I don’t need any help.”
In a little experiment on the show, three girls, Iris, Na’shae and Kiera, are given tablets to play with.
Watched by Dr Elizabeth Kilby, and Dr Hannah Critchlow, the latter says: “We know what four-year-old’s love imaginative play, and it’s important for their development.
“But when young children are given access to a tablet, how’s it going to affect their behaviour and the way they interact with each other?
“In the UK recently it’s been estimated recently that between 30 to 40 per cent of children of this age have their own tablet.”
The room falls silent as the trio are immediately engrossed in their games.
Dr Elizabeth says: “I’ve never seen the classroom this quiet and this still. We’re normally used to children running around and playing with things.”
After around 20 minutes, teacher Kate walks into the room carrying a tray of marshmallows, squirty cream, chocolate and sprinkles, to see how the kids will react.
Surprisingly, none of them look away from their screens.
Dr Elizabeth says: “They haven’t even looked up actually; they haven’t acknowledged Kate has entered the room.
“Time after time we have seen children of this age not be able to resist the lure of a sweet treat.
“I think this is a classic example of what parents are worried about when it comes to tech.
“It becomes all-absorbing and nothing is drawing these children away.”
Even when teacher Kate takes away the tech, the trio comment on how much they’d like them back.
They’re so distracted by even the thought of the tablets, it takes them a while to notice the sugar selection.
Dr Hannah says: “It’s striking to see just how captivated the girls are by their tablets. But with the technology removed from the room, will we see a change in their behaviour.”
“The smell of the chocolate and the marshmallow must be wafting towards them.”
Finally, the sweets are spotted, and the children troop over for a sugary hit.
Dr Elizabeth notes: “It’s fascinating to see the difference, because the girls are interacting and communicating, and none of that happened when they had the tech.
“You can’t help but think they must be gaining more skills, more developmental advantages from this kind of social and physical play.”
The Secret Life of Four Year Olds air tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm.
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