A prestigious girls’ grammar school has taken the decision to ban Fitbits, amid fears they could be triggering disordered eating.
The gadgets are designed to keep track of the number of steps taken per day, but Stroud High School in Gloucestershire has revealed growing concerns that their pupils are skipping meals in order to control calorie intake if they don’t reach their goals.
Deputy headteacher Cindi Pride said: ‘We don’t need our girls to be counting calories. If they didn’t feel they had taken enough steps in the morning they wouldn’t eat lunch.’
‘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.’
This isn’t the only measure the school is introducing to help combat some of the mental health issues connected to technology.
The ruling coincides with another ban on smartphones, with a recent survey by the school finding that 71% of pupils were checking their social media accounts frequently, disrupting lessons.
‘There have been many reports about how excessive use of social media can have a negative impact on mental health, particularly for girls,’ said Mrs Pride.
‘And the situation is getting worse. It can have a real impact on self-esteem with people comparing themselves to others.’
The decision was taken after a ‘detox week’ to raise money for mental health therapy, where the school spent time with its’ 860+ pupils learning how better to improve their mental health, finding that the pressure to be slim and the fear of ‘missing out’ (often abbreviated to FOMO) proved to be a dangerous trigger for some.
‘Whilst for many young people fear of missing out may not be a problem, for others it is causing them distress in the form of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy,’ she added.
The new rules were announced in a letter from the school to parents and guardians, and they have been applauded for their initiative.
One parent said: ‘This is a good move, which addresses important issues in an appropriate and measured way. Hopefully it will mean that the students communicate with each other more on a face-to-face basis in the real world.’