Monday 17 June 2019

WATCH: What age would you allow your child to own a smartphone?

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Áine Kenny

“I THINK it’s ruining their lives; I see my grandkids with their screens in their hands… I give out to them.”

“I don’t see a problem with it, my sister is nine and has a smartphone… it’s grand.”

These are just some of the opinions Irish people have on children using smart phones. The polarising debate surrounding young children and smart phone usage has long been contested, with a growing amount of evidence suggesting smartphones can be detrimental to a child’s development. 

Some say the new technology should be embraced, while others think screens are destroying children’s imaginations.

What do the Irish public think? Independent.ie took to the streets to get the public’s opinion.

The general consensus was that very young children should not have smart phones. Some people didn’t think the problem was smartphones themselves, but how they were being used.

Others claimed that people are always fearful of new technology, and that we should accept the reality: smartphones are here to stay.

“They have access to too much online, they’re too young and they don’t understand, and its too adult,” says Anne Linanne.

“It’s taken the place of conversation. You go into any restaurants or café, or even at home, and they’re sitting down their phones are on the table,” she reflects. 

“I think the access on a smart phone… it is adult content… I know people who have six- and seven-year olds with smartphones and they are better than even my phone,” says Ronan Gargan.

“There is definitely benefits, children know better things throughout the world… unless there’s some way of curtailing the negative side of it… with cyber bullying, it’s too much,” he says.

Ana Mroczynska has a toddler son and she says she has mixed feelings about our the prospect of him having one someday.

She says: “I read some reports that up until they are two it’s not recommended at all, a maximum an hour a day... on the other hand its part of our world and reality right now.

“I do believe it can lead to some kind of addiction; I can even see with my son when he has too much screen time it is very difficult to offer him something else.”

Sarah Dyer agrees that smartphones can be addictive.

She told Independent.ie: “I think it’s taking away their childhood… I can see them stay inside and choose the phone over their friends. I got my phone when I was 12, I didn’t even use it… it was for safety.”

“Bring them the dumb dumb phones and keep them away from social media until maybe 16 or so. I think it puts them in an environment that’s way too dangerous for them way too early… especially unsupervised,” Eddie Kenny commented.

“I think its crazy, they’re all up in their rooms all day, they need to go outside!” says Charlene Grehan. “The media now is so powerful and they’re all looking at models and its just not healthy.”

Some people argue that a smartphone is a necessity now, and that the benefit of communication has been revolutionary.

“I’d like to say third or fourth class [would be the best time to get a smartphone] … ten years ago you wouldn’t need it all that much, but nowadays you definitely need it a lot more because everyone stays connected so tightly knit,” says Neil Cunningham.

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