ACCORDING to Ireland’s Health Minister, Simon Harris, children are “nearly being born with an iPad in their hand”.
Speaking at the launch of a new five-year campaign by the HSE and Safefood aimed at improving the health and well-being of children through better food choices and more activity, Harris eluded to his own childhood and pointed out that the availability of technology at such a young and vital age has led to Irish children becoming a lot less active, and a lot less healthy as a result.
“I Know myself growing up, as one of our younger politicians, so it’s not that long ago, growing up we were much more active.”
“We were playing the typical games people play in their housing estates and on their greens and in their sports clubs and now we do see a situation where children are nearly being born with the iPad in their hand and more and more time is being spent looking at the screen.”
Child and adolescent psychotherapist Joanna Fortune said she agrees that children are leading more sedentary lifestyles, due to the rapid rise of technology.
“Ideally, children should not have access to any screens under two to three years old as their developing brains struggle to process the stimulation of screens under this age.”
“Beyond that, screen time should be significantly restricted to approximately 30 minutes a day until age seven.”
Harris’ new START campaign, in conjunction with the HSE and Safefood, will look to gradually introduce incentives and initiatives to improve the well-being of Irish children and to create attractive alternatives to the current habits most Irish children are indulging in.
“There are very simple things we can all do as part of a society to help get our children out in the air more, to help them exercise more, that will really stand to them and stand to society in terms of health and wellbeing.”