Primary school headteachers have claimed smartphones "rob" pupils of their childhood as they asked parents to delay giving them to their children.

In a letter sent to parents, the Bushey and Radlett Primary School Consortium said it was committed to making its schools a “smartphone-free” environment, in line with the Smartphone Free Childhood campaign.

The consortium, consisting of 12 headteachers, warned that smartphones can expose young children to harmful sites such as pornography, bullying or grooming content, adding that they had “no place in the life of a primary-aged school child”.Bushey Heath Primary School is one of twelve schools included in the consortium.Bushey Heath Primary School is one of twelve schools included in the consortium. (Image: Google Maps) 

While the schools group recognised parents’ need to contact their children, it warned that smartphones were “highly-addictive” and have been linked to poor mental health, depression and low self-esteem.

The devices reduce their attention span and “rob” them of their childhood, the consortium claimed, as they spent less time playing and interacting with other youngsters.

The Smartphone Free Childhood campaign was set up in February by two friends Daisy Greenwell and Clare Fernyhoug in Suffolk who created a WhatsApp group to support other parents in refusing to give their child a smartphone.

According to its website, the movement now counts around 60,000 parents across the UK on its WhatsApp and Instagram channels.

In the letter sent to parents on Friday, the consortium added: “We believe we can all work together across Bushey and Radlett, and join the growing movement across the county and country, to change the ‘normal’ age that children are given smartphones, putting pressure on the industry to exercise tighter controls and safety measures for our children.”

It has asked parents to resist pressure to give their child a smartphone and opt for a mobile with just text and call functions if necessary. 

The schools group claimed that smartphones 'rob' children of their childhood.The schools group claimed that smartphones 'rob' children of their childhood. (Image: PA)

The letter signed by 12 headteachers concluded by stating that they recognise the benefits of technology on children’s lives, but want them to develop “within the real world first”.

The Bushey and Radlett Primary School Consortium comprises Ashfield Junior School (Bushey), Merry Hill Infant School (Bushey), Hartsbourne Primary School (Bushey), Bushey Primary Education Federation (Bushey), St John’s Infant and Nursery (Radlett), Newberries Primary School (Radlett), Highwood Primary School (Bushey), Bournehall Primary School, Fair Field Junior School (Radlett), Little Reddings Primary School (Bushey), Bushey Heath Primary School (Bushey) and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School (Bushey).