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Publication date:- 2017-23-12

user-generated Headlines and reports on this page = 4 news items.    Page - 10.

1 in 4 teenagers couldn't enjoy Christmas without social media

MORE than 1 in  4 teenagers; an estimated 108,000 young people in the North West; say they couldn't enjoy Christmas without social media according to a new survey carried out for The Children's Society.  Almost 1 in 3, 128,000, said they thought it was getting harder to enjoy Christmas, while only 1 in 10 felt it was getting easier. Many young people are left casting envious glances at their peers and people they follow, with 31%, 124,000, saying that social media use at Christmas makes them want more gifts and presents after having compared themselves to others. 1 in 5 children think that friends on social media seem to be having a better Christmas than them. However, 40% felt that social media made them think more about those who are less fortunate than they are at Christmas time. The poll of 1,010 13 to 17 year olds in England and Wales, conducted by Research Now for The Children's Society, found a 32% increased their use of social media over Christmas, with only 8% saying they spent less time on the online platforms. 47% of all young people said they didn't spend enough time with friends during the Christmas break, with 76% of those who use social media more at this time of year saying they did so to see what their school friends were doing over the holidays. Worryingly 13% said they use social media more at Christmas to help them feel less alone, while 17% do so to escape family stress and 32% do so because they feel bored.

Rob Jackson, North West Area Director at The Children's Society, said:- "Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, including children. Many miss their friends whilst not at school and social media can represent an important lifeline to the outside world. Although social media can have many benefits, we know that overuse can be damaging to young people's well-being and may harm their mental health. That is why parents need to be aware of what children are doing online and more needs to be done to raise awareness about how to minimise risks and help ensure use of social media is as positive an experience as possible. It is also absolutely vital that parents talk to their children, support them to see friends and encourage them to stay active. By doing so they can help them to overcome the stresses of the season and enjoy the festive spirit. There will however be many children this Christmas, with nowhere to turn, and at The Children's Society we support thousands of these young people. It is vital that more of them are able to access the support they need all year round."

The Children's Society is calling for tougher regulation and decisive action by social media companies to ensure the online world is safer for children and to minimise risks like cyber bullying and online grooming. It wants to see clearer child friendly guidelines, better advice on blocking people and reporting issues, and quicker and more effective responses to reports of inappropriate behaviour and material.  Mr Reed added:- "The Government must do its bit to make sure this happens, and we would urge it to listen to the voices of young people in developing its proposed Code of Practice for social media companies, which we would like to see in place as soon as possible."

Don't Let Fire Ruin Festive Cheer

IT'S the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas dinner, giving presents, decorating your home; there's so much to think about at this time of year… and that's before the festivities even get started!  1 thing Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is urging residents to put at the top of their Christmas to do lists this year is fire safety.  While fire safety is important the whole year round, the extra distractions of Christmas make vigilance especially important. MFRS is asking people to take extra care over Christmas, when the winter weather can bring its own challenges, to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.

Mark Thomas, Prevention Group Manager for MFRS, said:- "Christmas should be a fun time for festive cheer with family and friends. But fairy lights, candles and decorations means it is also a time to take extra care to keep our loved ones safe from fire. We want everyone to enjoy a Merry Christmas and we urge all to keep fire safety at the top of your list. Ensure you place candles in suitable holders and away from curtains and festive decorations, never leave cooking unattended and, of course, test your smoke alarms. The colder weather brings its own dangers too. Take care when using portable heaters or open fires to keep warm and always look out for elderly neighbours, friends and relatives."

Here are some tips to help you and your family enjoy the joys of Christmas safely:-

Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Many of us enjoy a merry tipple over the festive season but be sure to avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

►  Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.

►  Never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are replaced too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture.

►  Don't overload sockets. Ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.

►  Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries.

►  Put your cigarette out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired. It's very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and this can set furniture alight.

►  Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598) and are in good working order before use.

►  Always use an RCD (Residual Current Device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.

►  Do something good this Christmas. Test the smoke alarms of someone you know who may need help such as an older relative or neighbour to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.

►  Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in case of fire; in the event of fire you should get out, stay out and call:- 999.

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