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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Taoiseach moots age limit for smartphone use

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The Government is considering putting an age limit on smartphone use as it looks to clamp down on the dangerous role social media can play in the lives of vulnerable young people.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he and his Cabinet have given the idea some consideration after campaigns around the issue gathered pace in recent months.

Mr Varadkar said he is willing to listen to the views of parents and groups representing young people on the matter.

However, he has not committed to imposing an age restriction.

Concern has grown in recent months that predators are using social media apps that are easily downloaded on to smartphones to groom vulnerable young children.

The use of smartphones has also led to concerns that children find it harder to escape bullying.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged this growing concern yesterday and that the issue could be addressed in the future by putting an age limit on those who would be able to buy or use a smartphone.


"It is an idea that has been put out there," said Mr Varadkar.

"And it is something that the Government is giving some thought to."

The Taoiseach said that parents and children will be afforded an opportunity to feed into the Government's discussions and on the matter in the future.

"I would certainly be willing to listen to parents and hear what the Parents Council and also organisations representing young people have to say about it before making any decisions," he said.

It comes after the Taoiseach this week said the Government would have an action plan on online safety ready by the end of June.

However, he said stakeholders - including key players in the tech industry - also have a key role in protecting children online.

"Government action alone cannot remove all these risks," said Mr Varadkar.

"A wide range of stakeholders including parents, educators, tech firms and law enforcement have roles to play in making the internet a safer place."

Irish Independent

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