Time to ban smartphones and mobile devices in primary schools, says Senator

by Rose Barrett
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It’s time to roll a nationwide ban on smartphones and mobile devises, says Senator Mary Seery Kearney (FG).

The Seanad party spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration & Youth said parents and principals have been the key drivers in introducing a ban on smartphones for primary schools in Greystones and this model warrants consideration for a wider roll-out.

The co-operation and collaboration demonstrated by parents and principals of eight schools in coastal town of Greystones has children’s wellbeing and safety at its core and could appeal to countless other communities around the country.

“TheNo Smart Device Voluntary Code’ initiative encourages parents and guardians to collectively agree to postpone the purchase of smart devices for their children until they go to secondary school. This includes smartphones, smart pads, and access to age-inappropriate apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Discord,” Senator Kearney said.

Apart from parents fearing their children could be vulnerable to insidious content online, there have also been stories of children being bullied, excluded and experiencing low self-esteem as they are bombarded on social media by current trends and sometimes abuse from their peers.

Senator Mary Seery Kearney (FG)

“By coming together, parents, teachers and principals devised and introduced this code, which means all children in the area who attend the same schools won’t experience the dreaded ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) by not having a phone or tablet.”

“As of this year, we now have our first Online Safety Commissioner and she is empowered to hold online services to tackle the control and prevention of the most serious forms of harmful online content and oversee the introduction of an individual complaints mechanism,” she added.

Pushing for a meeting with the relative government officials regarding the introduction of a pilot programme to enlist more schools onto the ‘No Smart Device Voluntary Code’ initiative, the senator  noted the Netherlands will introduce a similar ban on phones, tablets and smartwatches from January next.  

“Childhood is precious and all the more fleeting now. We have a duty as parents, guardians, teachers and legislators to provide as safe a space as we can for children.”

Feature photo: LoboStudioHamburg/PI

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