Primary kids ‘should not have phones’

September 18th, 2023 6:00 AM

By Brian Moore

School principal Alan Foley would welcome a more widespread rollout of the ban on phones. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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A FINE Gael senator is calling for principals and parents to join together and agree a ban on smartphones for primary school children.

Senator Tim Lombard said that, following an agreement on a ‘voluntary code’ between parents and principals in primary schools in Greystones, Co Wicklow, not to give smartphones to children, he would like to see this same initiative adopted in West Cork.

Sen Tim Lombard wants a collective decision to ban smartphones in schools.

The initiative would see parents, guardians, and school principals collectively agreeing to postpone the purchase of smart devices for their children until secondary school.  

‘Children, especially younger children, are facing serious peer pressure these days when it comes to owning their first smartphone,’ Sen Lombard told The Southern Star.

‘As parents of young children, we have a lot of concerns about their well-being and safety online, and when they should be allowed to use smart devices,’ Sen Lombard said.

‘I would like to see a collective decision, especially with the primary schools across West Cork, to work together to ban smartphones, and for parents to ensure that if their child has a smartphone that they know how to protect them from inappropriate apps and websites.’  

A recent Unesco report said that bans on smartphones in schools had resulted in improved academic performance, particularly for low-performing students.

Some local schools have already moved to limit phone usage. This year, principal Bart Kerrisk at Mount St Michael secondary school in Rosscarbery introduced a new policy to ban smartphones for all incoming first year students.

And while there is already a no-phone policy at St Patrick’s National School in Skibbereen, principal Alan Foley would welcome a greater roll-out of the ban in West Cork.

‘Peer pressure is extremely high these days for children and we have seen kids receiving smartphones and other devices as a First Communion gift,’ Mr Foley said. ‘But it is very important that parents are aware of the problems a smartphone or other smart device can cause,’ he added. 

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