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Parents unite in smartphone ban for children

Children using a smartphone.
Max Fischer/Pexels

Parents in a town in Ireland have come together in a bid to remove the temptations of smartphones from their children’s daily life, the Guardian reported.

Concerned about the adverse effect that social media might be having on their offspring, parents in Greystones — a community of around 18,000 located 14 miles south of Dublin — agreed to launch a town-wide no-smartphone rule that means their children will only be able to get a handset once they reach secondary school at around the age of 13.

The thinking is that banding together to impose such a sweeping rule will make it easier for parents to present it to their children.

“If everyone does it across the board, you don’t feel like you’re the odd one out,” Laura Bourne, who has a young child, told the Guardian. “It makes it so much easier to say no. The longer we can preserve their innocence the better.”

Before the rule was imposed, schools in the area banned or limited the use of phones on their premises, but parents have decided to take it a step further with a much broader ban.

Rachel Harper, principal of the school that developed the plan, said that childhoods “are getting shorter and shorter,” adding that she’d heard about local children as young as nine asking for a smartphone. “It was creeping in younger and younger, we could see it happening,” Harper said.

Greystones’ smartphone ban is voluntary, so some parents could still allow their child to use a handset, but enough people signed up to convince organizers that it was a plan worth pursuing.

One 10-year-old girl in the town admitted to the Guardian that while she would like to have a smartphone for texting her friends, she wouldn’t want to become addicted to it. Her sister, two years younger, seemed to think the ban was a good idea, saying: “It’s fair if no one can have it.”

Ireland’s health minister, Stephen Donnelly, has even recommended the initiative as a nationwide policy, saying that it’s important to “make it easier for parents to limit the content their children are exposed to.”

While smartphones can bring plenty of benefits to children, the devices can, for some, lead to mental health problems involving issues like self-image, cyberbullying, and exposure to unsuitable content.

Whether the new rule in Greystones leads to a positive outcome for the younger members of its community remains to be seen.

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Trevor Mogg
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