Stroud high school for girls says tech gadgets and social media exacerbate pressures leading to low self-esteem
A girls’ school is banning wearable activity trackers and smartwatches because of concerns that pupils are skipping lunch if they fail to meet their calorie and exercise targets.
Teachers at Stroud high school in Gloucestershire fear the gadgets are exacerbating some girls’ worries about their body image.
The deputy headteacher, Cindi Pride, said the school’s active and healthy pupils did not need to count calories and the number of steps they took each day.
She said: “We are banning Fitbits and smartwatches. These monitor the number of calories burned and we found that some girls would monitor the number of steps they had taken and the number of calories they had used. If they didn’t feel they had taken enough steps in the morning, they wouldn’t eat lunch.
“We don’t need our girls to be counting calories. They are young women who are fit and healthy and they do exercise and PE, and do not need to be obsessed with steps or calories.”
The move was welcomed – with reservations – by a former pupil of the school, Rachel Cross, who had an eating disorder and has set up a support group in Stroud for other people who have similar conditions.
She said: “With young girls it’s very difficult to say if something will lead to an eating disorder or not; using things like Fitbits can just be a cool thing for them to do.
“I think I agree with it, but I do have reservations over whether it will actually prevent anyone from getting a disorder if they are on that path anyway. It’s potentially a good precaution to take. If it’s distracting them from work, it’s a good idea anyway.
“It will be interesting to see how it works out. Pupils always try to bend the rules anyway, for example on the length of skirts.”
Parents appeared to be on board. One said: “This is a good move, which addresses important issues in an appropriate and measured way.”
– Steven Morris