Six major mobile phone firms will support scheme to stop primary school children having smartphones

Six major mobile phone firms will support scheme to stop primary school children having smartphones

SIX of the leading mobile phone operators in Ireland have confirmed their support for a government scheme designed to stop primary school children having smartphones.

Vodafone, Three, eir, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media and An Post Mobile have all confirmed that they support the ‘Keeping Childhood Smartphone Free’ guide for parents and parents’ associations of primary school age children.

The guidelines provide advice for the setting up of voluntary agreements between parents to avoid buying smartphones for their children while in primary school.

Ireland’s Minister for Education, Norma Foley, whose department launched the scheme, has welcomed the backing of the mobile phone operators – who between them account for more than 95 per cent of the Irish mobile phone market.

“At my recent social media summit, I asked the companies invited to show leadership in terms of protecting our children online,” she said.

Minister for Education Norma Foley made the announcement this week

“They gave me a commitment that they would reflect on this and I am delighted that six mobile operators have now confirmed their support for the voluntary agreements.”

Minister Foley added: “I believe that the strong endorsement from these major mobile phone operators for this policy will lead to even more voluntary agreements being adopted to ‘Keep Childhood Smartphone Free’.”

Since Minister Foley launched the anti-smartphone guide, there has been a strong take-up of the voluntary agreements by parents and parents’ associations in counties across Ireland.

Parents associations have carried out school surveys, produced research and held public meetings.

Schools have erected posters on their school grounds with slogans such as ‘Smartphone-free voluntary code’.

The “key purpose” of these voluntary agreements has been to “reduce the peer pressure on pupils and parents in relation to buying or using smartphones and social media apps while they are in primary school” Ms Foley’s department has confirmed.

“I am very encouraged by the positive response by parents and parents associations and I would like to commend them for all the work they have put in,” Minister Foley said this week.

“We know that smartphone use can expose children to risks such as cyberbullying, harmful content and online grooming.

“It is all about delaying, not denying forever, the purchase of a smartphone, until our young people are better placed to deal with these risks.”