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Katharine Birbalsingh, the new head of the Social Mobility Commission, has told MPs that she would like to launch a national campaign to stop parents letting toddlers use mobile phones.

She cited this as an example of what she might be able to do in her new role, saying that young children were less likely to learn to read if they could play with a phone. She told the Commons women and equalities commission:

My initial thoughts are that I would like national campaigns on things like phones and not giving them to your toddler.

I would love it if we could get to a point where [it is considered] in the same way that we know that you should eat four or five fruit or vegetables in a day, or drink eight glasses of water a day.

We know this because the campaigning has been so clear, and it’s happened over time – years and years, it’s everywhere – it just becomes part of the national consciousness.

I would love it if things like ‘don’t give your child a phone’ were to become part of the national consciousness.

She added that giving young children phones made it more difficult for them to engage in reading, because a “book that’s black and white and flat” is less interesting than a tablet which has “all sorts of flashing images and colours and adverts”.

That’s is all from me for today. My colleague Kevin Rawlinson is now taking over.

Katharine Birbalsingh.
Katharine Birbalsingh. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

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