Use of mobile technology 'fast-forwards' childhood
A COMBINATION of technology and parental pressures is "fast-forwarding" childhood, an expert has warned.
Colman Noctor, a child and adolescent psychoanalytical psychotherapist, said young people are now being exposed to adult expectations and concepts like alcohol, drugs and sex before they are ready.
Mr Noctor, who is currently working on a PhD on the impact of social media on young people, said he has observed that networking sites like Facebook and Instagram encourage users to "put their best foot forward" – and amongst young people, this means appearing older.
Pouting 'selfies' and sophisticated profiles see young people imitating a "sexualised, fully-formed human being whereas, psychologically, they are not ready", he explained.
"It depends on the kid. I have 16-year-old kids that shouldn't be allowed near it, while some 11-year-olds are fine – it depends on their vulnerability, their understanding and their engagement with it," he said.
In a new investigative documentary airing on Newstalk today, Mr Noctor claimed Irish childhood is being shortened by modern elements such as advertising and media, with technology as the catalyst.
The documentary, supported by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund, examines whether these changes are inevitable.
Commenting on the documentary, co-producer and presenter Sheena Horgan said: "What is clear from 'Is Childhood Shrinking?' is that Irish childhood is tainted by consumerism and sexualised imagery, accelerated by a mobile technology that is often unsupervised by parents."