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Guidance set to urge parents not to buy smartphones for primary school children

Generic stock photo of a child using an Apple iPhone smartphone (PA).
Generic stock photo of a child using an Apple iPhone smartphone (PA). Generic stock photo of a child using an Apple iPhone smartphone (PA).

New guidance urging parents not to buy smartphones for their primary school age children is set to be introduced.

Education minister Norma Foley has drawn up a memo for Cabinet colleagues outlining the proposal.

The new guidance, if approved by the Government, will be sent to all primary schools in the country.

It is based on a project involving eight schools in Greystones in Co Wicklow that saw parents of primary school pupils collectively agree not to buy smartphones for them.

Leaving certificate exams
Leaving certificate exams Education Minister Norma Foley has drawn up the proposal (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Foley’s proposal has been prompted by concerns around the potential exposure of younger children to cyber bullying, violent and sexual content and other harmful content on phones.

The minister’s party leader, Tanaiste Micheal Martin, used his speech at the Fianna Fail ard fheis on Saturday to flag the move.

He told party members why he felt it was important to limit children’s exposures to smartphones.

“One of the greatest challenges of today is helping children to navigate an online world – one which brings new threats and affects the ability to maintain healthy connections,” he said.

“That is why we will be expanding guidelines and controls on smartphone access in schools – and every family and school will receive guidance on how to navigate this challenge with their children to keep them safe and healthy.”