You’re my new best friend. I hope we can meet some day.

You’re my new best friend. I hope we can meet some day.

Remember when you grew up with friends from school and kept them, starting out on life’s journey together, discussing what you wanted to work at and how you were going to achieve it whilst you were mucking around in the park?

I do. So does my son, who is in his early thirties.

But take the son of a friend of mine, who is twelve. Ask him who his best friend is and he might say that it’s someone from school, or he might say that it’s the kid he plays a ‘massively multiplayer online game’ (MMOG) with every night over the internet, whilst plugged into earphones and exercising his thumbs, which are visible only as blurs as they manipulate a control pad that a few years ago would have been a mad invention in Star Trek.

All innocent enough, you might think. And yet…

This is just the start of the age of ‘The Internet of Everything’. Want some clothes? Don’t go out, Google what you want. You’ll get everything you need and an app will 3D model it onto your picture, so you can see what you look like wearing them. Need food? Reach for the keyboard.

Text your mates. Tweet what you’ve eaten, seen, like, hate. See bands on You Tube, no need to actually go. Share what you’ve done in pictures on Instagram, Facebook. Criticise someone you don’t actually know on any of the above or on

Before you start to think ‘you’re just some bloke who is living in the past’, let me explain why all of this matters.

A recent survey by The British Chambers of Commerce shows that employers are increasingly frustrated by not being able to find young recruits who have any ‘soft’ or social skills, no matter how many A* passes they have.

The Government has seen the danger in this and is running the National Citizen Service which uses volunteering as a means of getting young people integrated into society and thus able to mix with real humans, rather than a machine or piece of software. So far, its annual target is 34,000 young people, but the number of NEETS – ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ – has reached some 640,000 young people who have never worked at all and is up 56,000 in a year.

Luminaries such as Sir Terry Leahy, ex of Tesco, the largest private sector employer in the UK, are emphatically critical of the education system and of the lack of social or ‘soft’ skills in particular.

Often lacking in self-esteem, confidence, the ability to turn up on time (or at all) for an interview, and present themselves to their advantage are often cited as being the reasons why youth unemployment is in such a critical state.

So why are we at LAW Creative interested in this? After all, we are big in social media planning and creation and live in a world where digital communication is central to most things we do.

It’s partly to do with social responsibility. But it’s also arisen as an issue because of the work we do with one of our clients, David Lloyd Leisure.

DL Kids is a specific programme of activities designed for children and their parents where real life interaction is actively encouraged as a fundamental part of growing up into a socially aware adult. Mixing with other children, many of whom will be strangers, shows how to make friends, read body language and expression, how to mix, how to please and how to give and gain respect. You won’t get that from sitting in front of a screen, no matter how advanced the technology.

So whilst we appreciate social media for all the great things it does, we are also critically aware that children need to interact in the flesh to grow into adults who are responsible, employable and have the skills that they will need to prosper as they get older.

So next time you see your youngsters engaged in a game of virtual pool, drag them away from the lure of the digital world and plunge into a real pool at David Lloyd Leisure with them.

They’ll be fitter, happier and, just as important, preparing themselves for the real world.

Find out more about DL Kids at