Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey is to enlist the support of Minister of State Jim Daly in his campaign to regulate the use of mobile phones and other information technology devices among young school goers.
Minister Daly, who has special responsibility for mental health, is a former Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs and has accepted an invitation from Deputy Carey to visit the Clare constituency next week.
“I believe that Minister Daly can play a major role in protecting young people from the more unacceptable elements of social media which can have such devastating effects on their mental health. Cyberbullying and the circulation of inappropriate content is now a major issue and this is particularly prevalent in the school environment,” Deputy Carey explained.
The initiative follows the introduction of an internet and technology policy at Clarecastle National School where 82 per cent of parents agreed that their children will not have sole ownership of a mobile phone while attending the school.
The agreement also includes the use of “age-appropriate technology” at the pupil’s homes for a reasonable time period every week.
Deputy Carey, who has described the policy introduced by school principal Martin Moloney as “a sensible and considered response to a complex issue”, has written to Education Minister Joe McHugh urging him to adopt it as a model that could be replicated in primary schools all over the country.
“I support Mr Moloney and the Clarecastle board of management in their efforts to enable pupils embrace technology in a safe and age-appropriate environment while leaving plenty of time for physical activity, play and sleep. I am now looking for Minister Daly’s support in bringing this worthwhile initiative to national level”.
The policy was drawn up on the advice of forensic psychologist and social media safety expert Maureen Griffin who fully endorsed the Clarecastle school’s ‘no phone’ approach.