Below are some recent examples of Richard's consultancy work:

Nominet’s Knowthenet Social Age Survey
This survey explored the way more than 1000 children aged 8-16 use social media platforms. Richard was the spokesman for this campaign. The survey revealed that:

·Facebook tops the list of sites that kids sign up to underage with 52% of 8-16 year olds admitting they had ignored the site’s official age limit - followed by WhatsApp (40%), BBM (24%), SnapChat (11%) and Ask.fm (8%). At aged ten, over half (59%) of children have used a social network.

·children are opening themselves up to potential risks, with 21% posting negative comments  starting from the average age of 11 and a quarter (26%) hijacking another’s account and posting without permission. Furthermore, 43% have messaged strangers starting from an average age of 12.

·a child’s social media development begins aged nine and over the next four year period, their internet activity evolves from simply viewing content online to being active on social media. At nine, children first access YouTube and at 10, they start using Internet slang (e.g. “BRB”, “YOLO”) and instant messaging.

·at 11 years, children are likely to first post an image or video of themselves, post a nasty comment online and set up a fake social media profile. At 12, they first try Twitter and Whatsapp and message someone online they haven’t met in real life; and at 13, they first try services like SnapChat and try sexting for the first time.

Richard’s contribution to the press release was
"The internet offers wonderful experiences for growing and inquisitive young minds. Yet, as social media has removed the barriers between a young person's public and private self, children can become vulnerable and compulsive online sharing can lead to danger. As this study shows, children are gaining access to social media sites at a younger age, which could expose them to content, people or situations that are out of their depth and which they're not emotionally prepared for.

Parents can no longer protect children by simply trying to limit their online experiences. Instead parents need to maintain an open dialogue and encourage children to share both good and bad online experiences, talk openly and straightforwardly with their children about the risks they may encounter online without scaring them, and make sure they keep up with the latest social media crazes and work with their children rather than trying to control them.

There was substantial press coverage (click here to view an example).

Richard also gave radio interviews and spoke on Radio 2’s Drivetime Programme about the implications of the survey’s findings:

GrowingUpMilkinfo.com Taste For Technology Campaign
When this campaign was launched, Richard provided a psychological perspective. The press release explained that:  

TV dinners and smartphone suppers begin in toddlerhood for almost two-thirds of the nation’s little ones (62%),  While almost half of UK parents (41%) see the everyday meal occasion as an opportunity for family bonding, the GrowingUpMilkinfo.com research reveals a majority of toddlers (69%) are often transfixed by a screen during family mealtimes and would kick up a fuss if the TV or iPad was switched off.

More than a third of those toddlers watch TV or a DVD (36%) at the table. Hand-held gadgets are next with iPads (28%) coming second, followed by smartphones (24%) and hand-held games (12%). Tantrums (38%) and boredom (35%) are the main reasons most mums and dads turn to technology during mealtimes, with just one in twenty (5%) prioritising the nutrition of their little one at the table.

GrowingUpMilkinfo.com Child Psychologist, Dr Richard Woolfson comments:

The family meal is such a wonderful time for parents and children to share their feelings, thoughts and ideas through face-to-face communication, while also providing good nutrition to support toddler growth and giving parents opportunity to encourage positive eating habits.

Unfortunately, this Taste For Technology Survey reveals that a high percentage of parents allow their toddler to play with a gadget while munching at mealtimes. Although technology does add new and exciting dimensions to a toddler’s life, access to IT devices at the family dining table inevitably distracts children from eating what’s in front of them, reduces their desire to chat with others during dinner, and isolates them from the dynamic communication buzz of the family meal. That’s a lost opportunity and that’s also why it’s best to make family-mealtimes a no-gadget zone. After a few initially protests, your toddler will soon adapt and everyone will experience the full psychological and nutritional benefits of an IT-free family meal.

Richard gave numerous radio and press interviews. He also made a short video about fussy eaters shown below.
The McCain 'Food For Thought' Survey.
The Potato Story is an unbranded educational initiative developed by McCain Foods (GB). Focusing on food provenance, The Potato Story uses the journey a potato makes from 'field to fork' to teach children in a fun, interactive and engaging way.    
In connection with this educational strategy, McCain conducted the Food For Thought Survey, which gathered the views of more than 1500 children aged 7-11 years, about their understanding food. Richard then compiled the following contribution to a McCain press release which attracted wide media interest:
“Understanding about food and about what constitutes “healthy food” is an important feature of any strategy to develop healthy eating habits in childhood. Children need awareness of where food comes from – and how it is prepared – in order to know what to eat. Yet the results of the McCain Food For Thought survey show that many parents have an uphill struggle when it comes to building their child’s knowledge of food provenance. In a time-precious society, family life is hectic, and both children and parents lead increasingly dynamic and independent lifestyles, so it’s not surprising that understanding about food has diminished. Eating experiences have become dominated by the need to produce fast and easy meals – where the food actually comes from and how it is prepared is of less interest. to young consumers The survey found, for example, that almost 1 in 5 of the children who took part don’t know that potatoes grow in the ground – and 1 in 10 actually think they come from chickens! Equally worrying, 7 out of 10 children revealed that they wouldn’t be able to identify a banana if they saw it in a fruit shop. Children should have ownership of their own eating experiences. This can best be achieved through a combination of good food knowledge, awareness of what makes up a healthy diet, understanding of how meals are made, and a practical connection with food preparation. It is never too early – or too late – for you to start developing your child’s healthy eating habits.”
McCain organised a very successful radio day in which Richard was interviewed by a range of radio stations about the Food For Thought Survey.

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