We recently spent time with some National School teachers and asked their opinion about the proposed ban on Smartphones for children in National Schools. The response was one of almost total agreement. The devices should be banned. The will to achieve this ban now not only exists, it is incredibly strong. The advantages of implementing a ban has been witnessed by parents, teachers and students in schools where this brave move has already been made. So what is holding everyone else back ?
Firstly, it is a big ask, to expect parents to just say no to their children, when so many other parents are providing hand me down smartphones, or buying new devices for their children as a Communion, Confirmation, birthday or Christmas gifts.
Parents are coming under intense pressure, because they don't want their child to be left behind, or be exposed to bullying in the classroom, as they are the only child without a device. Children are also experiencing the same levels of intense pressure. However this pressure to provide access to the devices, needs to be balanced against the possible negative impacts children are experiencing when they have unmonitored and unrestricted access to devices.
Secondly, it is very unfair to expect teachers to deal with online misbehaviour of children outside of school hours, in school. However this area of responsibility is being forced upon schools. Primarily due to the online activities of some children, migrating in to real world behaviours and actions impacting children during school hours. Teachers are already under intense pressure to deliver a curriculum, often in overloaded classrooms and with reduced or almost minimum resources. Teachers can't be an omnipresence in the lives of children.
Parents have a role to play in protecting their children from harmful online content. This is a very important responsibility. Most parents are aware of this but at the same time, are desperately are looking for a way to say ‘No' to their children. This presents a huge opportunity for both schools and parents to come together this September. A chance for to move forward together, collaborating to reach a firm decision regarding children's restricted access to technology. Such a decision will have an enormous positive outcome for children.
There are acknowledged and immediate results for those brave enough to attempt to restrict or ban access to devices. A child who is not constantly distracted by the continuous notifications on a device, will have some chance of developing the capacity to concentrate. Not having a device 24/7, will give a much-needed break from the ever connected world, allowing a child time for themselves. Children will look at their parents, siblings and friends instead of a screen. A child's capacity to begin to use their imagination, communicate and play with others and engage in social interaction in the real world begins. These are vital skills we all needed to lean.
When we were children ourselves we explored, created, discovered, invented and had fun. If we made a mistake, 3.2 billion others were not watching. Our children are just as entitled to be children, as we once were. We would ask all parents to support this ban on Smartphones which is being proposed. The time we have living in the innocence of childhood is not only precious, it is limited. You can ensure your children enjoy and get the most from their childhood by protecting them from that which is both unnecessary and potentially harmful.
Schools are willing to take on the image of the bad guy. Affording parents the ability to attribute blame on the school rather than themselves, for the restricted access to digital devices. This is a huge step forward. Parents really do need every bit of help they can get in this area. We would ask that all parents to grab this opportunity. Work with the school and implement a ban on devices. Children deserve the right to be children. In the online world they need to be protected from themselves. Let us know what you think, do you think it is a good idea or a bad one ?