Councillor Sharon Keogan.
“Why does an eight year old need a mobile phone in school?” That is the question being posed by Meath County Councillor Sharon Keogan.
“The argument that ‘I need to know where my child is’ cannot justify a child having a phone during school hours” she says.
Keogan claims that schools are not policing phone usage during school hours and that phones pinging during school hours is a common sound in our classrooms and she thinks it’s wrong.
“We know what social media can do to the mind of an adult so why on earth are we putting such a powerful tool in the hands of an immature minor?” she asks.
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“The stress associated with being in the school system today for our young children is being amplified by the access parents are giving to Social Media through the provision of mobile phones. We are equipping them to fill their lives with stress, bullying, feelings of inferiority and intimidation.
“That doesn’t sound like good parenting to me” said Keogan who is supporting a bill being proposed in the Dail by TD Peader Tobin from AONTÚ calling for the banning of all smart phones from primary schools.
“But is primary schools enough? We only have to look at the case of Ana Kriegel to witness the damage that unsupervised access to the internet and social media by young teenagers can do. Children downloading hard core porn, children using social media to intimidate and bully an innocent girl.
“If I could I would call it Ana’s bill in memory of a girl who was never given a chance by her peers. I believe her murder is a sign that something is not right in our society and we need to remember and learn from this atrocious act”, said Keogan.
“The facts are there that children are being influenced and are acting out on what they are exposed to. According to data from the Garda youth diversion programme it dealt with 20% more child sex offenders in 2017 than it did in 2016, an increase from 334 to 400.
“This includes a 37 per cent increase in sexual assault incidents. And the number of child pornography cases rose by 181% - the majority of which are for the sharing of explicit images between minors consensually, or,as a prank or incident of bullying.
“If we want to fix the increasing number of mental illness cases, the increasing numbers of suicides and the increasing bullying figures amongst children in school we need to look at the causes and look close to home.
“Children do not need mobile phones” she says, adding that parents should be parents and say “NO”.
"I am looking for people to support this bill banning mobile phones in schools - at least we can give our children some respite during school hours even if we can’t police what is happening at home.”