Steven Broomhead writes a regular column talks about changes in the Christmas lists for children

TO assist a local charity that I support I recently assisted as Santa Claus at an early Christmas grotto.

I delivered Christmas gifts to 200+ young children. It was a really enjoyable event although I did have a very sore knee by the end of the day.

I also seemed to be afflicted by offering the Santa handwave for days afterwards much to the mirth of friends, family and work colleagues!

The eyes and facial expressions of the children symbolised for me the true meaning and spirit of Christmas – delight, happiness and joy.

It was far removed from the increasing commoditisation and staged production of the festive season.

The largest number of requests of gifts from Santa were Frozen, Star Wars and, surprisingly, technology and specifically tablets.

Long gone are the days of train sets, Spirographs, Scalextric, Subbuteo, Mousetrap, board games and the sexist Girls World, Action Man and Barbie.

Personally I always waited in expectation for the arrival of the Charles Buchan Football Annual.

Basic digital competency for the under fives is now a major driver in early years education in our local nurseries and pre-school settings.

Seventy five per cent of young children now have access to at least one device connected to the internet.

This has increased from less than 20 per cent 10 years ago.

Almost 33 per cent of under fives now use a digital assistant such as Alexa or Siri, whereas I had to rely on my shouting for my grandmother who was responsible for my upbringing.

There widespread concerns about the possible harmful effects of screen times on children.

Parents are very anxious about what content their offspring can access even with the parental control level strongly set.

Young children have very curious minds and the technology companies should do more to prevent access to inappropriate learning content.

Netflix has overtaken You Tube for on demand pre school television.

Again this is in stark contrast to the days of black and white TV with Andy Pandy, Sooty and Sweep and The Flowerpot Men who you could only watch at pre-set times.

This sedentary digital dependency is significant for early years health and wellbeing and the ability to develop an early active lifestyle.

LiveWire and many other wellbeing providers in our town are now forming an activity programme for tots.

Previously in this column I have argued the importance of real books and learning – but it seems to be a losing battle.

So it may be the case this Christmas as the old Chinese proverb states, “Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.”