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Big Kids

04th Sep 2023

Education minister backs smartphone ban in schools with plans on the way

BY Simon Kelly

A Wicklow town is leading the way.

Education Minister Norma Foley appears to back a suggested smartphone ban in primary schools, saying she will announce plans within the next few weeks to support schools looking to ban the devices.

Revealed by the Sunday Independent, it is unclear what the supports will be, however the minister has met Rachel Harper, a school principal in Greystones, who has led a voluntary initiative to ban smartphones in eight schools in the Wicklow town.

“She was really impressed by the initiative rolled out there,” Ms Foley’s spokesperson said to the Independent this weekend.

“She has met with other stakeholder groups, parents organisations and has been putting together a suite of initiatives that will support schools looking to roll out similar initiatives.”

Ministers in favour of smartphone ban in primary schools

The backing for the plans by Minister Foley comes after her colleague, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly called for a ban in schools last week, citing children’s mental health as a major factor.

“Certain types of mobile phone use and internet use are causing damage to young people,” Mr Donnelly said.

“There is incontrovertible evidence from the US Surgeon General and around the world that certain types of mobile phone use cause immense damage to young people.”

Minister Donnelly also said that while he is in favour of the banning of smartphones in primary schools, he would prefer it be on a voluntary basis rather than a mandatory ban.

In a piece in the Irish Times in May, Minister Donnelly said Ireland should be “a world leader in ensuring that children and young people are not targeted and are not harmed by their interactions with the digital world.”