The debate

In February 2007, a UNICEF report on the wellbeing of children in the UK highlighted the dire state of childhood in Britain. Out of 21 developed countries our children came out the worst, despite Britain being the fifth wealthiest country in the world.

Is this report a true reflection of the lives of Britain's children and if so what should we do about it? This year 'Child of Our Time' launched its most ambitious project to date, filming the children continuously for 48 hours, aiming to catch every moment of their lives, wherever they were, whoever they were with, and whatever they were doing. It proved to be a unique opportunity to find out what children’s lives are really like.

In a special 90 minute programme 'Revolution in Childhood', for BBC FOUR, Martha Kearney leads a panel of experts as they take a closer look at modern childhood, covering subjects such as Play, the 'Me' Generation, Communication and Technology and asking if childhood is really under threat – and if it is, what we can do about it.

The participants

Jay Belsky Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission Jay Belsky
Jay Belsky is Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues and is Professor of Psychology at Birbeck University, London. Professor Belsky is an internationally recognised expert in the field of child development and family studies. He’s the author of more than 300 scientific articles and chapters and the author of several books.

Robert Winston Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission Robert Winston
Lord Winston, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, runs a research programme in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, with a long-term aim of improving human transplantation. He has around 300 scientific publications on reproduction and embryology and is also Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University.

Tanya Byron Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission Tanya Byron
Tanya Byron has worked in the NHS for 18 years, working in Drug Dependency, HIV/AIDS and sexual health, adult mental health and eating disorders services. Dr Byron also presents television programmes on child behaviour, science and current affairs and has published three books on child behaviour.

Tim Gill Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission Tim Gill
Tim Gill is one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood. His work focuses on children’s play and free time. He’s also published widely and appears regularly on radio and TV. Tim’s advised political parties and think-tanks representing a broad spectrum of political opinion, and has carried out consultancies for NGOs and public bodies.

Teresa Cremin Copyrighted image Credit: BBC Teresa Cremin
Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education (Literacy) at the Open University. She is President of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA), the leading English Subject Association in the UK and dedicated to advancing education in literacy. Professor Cremin is known internationally for her work on creative approaches to teaching and learning literacy.

What do you think?

We'd like to know what you think about the state of childhood in Britain today - so we've set up an online survey exploring stress and childhood. So far it seems that:

  • More than 8 in ten people think that there are too many pressures on children today and that children grow up too quickly
  • Nearly 7 out of 10 people think that children don't get enough time to play
  • Two-thirds feel that children don't get enough exercise
  • But, surprisingly, only 3 in 10 think it's unsafe for children to play outside
  • And about 1 in 3 think that computer games are good for children

But with your help, there's much more we can learn - complete our childhood and stress survey.

You can also share your views and opinions about what is happening to childhood - and what it means for our children in our comments section.

First broadcast: Thursday 5 Jun 2008 on BBC FOUR