Five things grownups should do before going online this summer

Five things grownups should do before going online this summer

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Shaun Fenton, headteacher at Reigate Grammar, has come up with a summer checklist of things a child should do each day before they’re allowed access to computer games or social media. These include making, eating and clearing their own breakfast (that’s one thing, not three), getting some exercise, doing a chore, playing a non-electronic game and reading a book. “A bit of structure and purpose can become something children secretly enjoy,” he says.

But if it’s important for children to have structured, non-screen time every day, it’s no less vital for their parents. These are my five super summer activities for adults.

1. Get up, wash, get dressed

This one is lifted straight from the children’s list, but for many adults, the day’s first encounter with social media comes shortly after they open their eyes. Buy a real alarm clock; using your phone to wake yourself up is like keeping a glass of wine on your bedside table in case you get thirsty. I’m not going to set a time before which it’s unacceptable to read what everybody thinks about what Steve Bannon said about Tommy Robinson, but if you haven’t brushed your teeth yet, it’s too early.

Don’t write eight sides of A4 to an old schoolfriend; they’ll think you’ve gone mad.



Don’t write eight sides of A4 to an old schoolfriend; they’ll think you’ve gone mad. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Compose a real letter

You probably haven’t done this in a while, so don’t overtax yourself. Don’t write eight sides of A4 to an old schoolfriend; they’ll think you’ve gone mad. Start with something short and simple, such as: “I know what you’ve been up to.” Post it directly through a random neighbour’s letterbox.

3. Get exercised

Try becoming enraged about something real and nearby, rather than some clown’s moronic tweet about last night’s Love Island. You must have a toilet that leaks or a lampshade that won’t sit straight. It’s easy to get worked up about this stuff if you practise.

4. Go to the pub

Obviously, it’s more fun to drink alone while ordering loads of stuff off eBay, but if the social skills needed to consume alcohol in the company of strangers aren’t nurtured, they will die. While it can be hard to fit this activity into a busy week, most pubs keep surprisingly accommodating hours. I’m not going to set a time after which it’s acceptable to go to the pub, but if you have brushed your teeth, you’re probably fine.

5. Queue at the bank

If you do not regularly experience the frustration of standing in a long, unmoving queue with nothing to occupy yourself, then you will never truly know peace. Let your blood boil while watching the bank teller studiously doing some paperwork at their window instead of dealing with the next customer. If nothing else, you will sleep well tonight.



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