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Teachers warn parents over smartphone dangers

Posted by Sally O'Brien, on 17/12/2014. Teachers warn parents over smartphone dangersTags: Parenting

With Christmas around the corner, parents are being warned about buying smartphones for children under 16 because of the cyber dangers for young teens and children accessing social media and the internet unsupervised.

It has been reported in the Irish Examiner this morning, that the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) have commented that 1 in 3 under 16yrs students are using smartphones on a daily basis and parents need to be fully aware of the dangers of allowing children unsupervised access to the internet.

General Secretary of INTO, Sheila Nunan, told the Irish Examiner, "Parents have to take responsibility for their children’s safety and could not rely on primary schools exclusively to solve problems such as 'stranger danger' and cyberbullying."

“Many parents don’t understand the technology and therefore can’t keep their children safe. Parents need to know how children use phones and computers. Without this it is very difficult to protect children from harm,” she said.

Researchers have shown that many preteens are using social media platforms such as Facebook, even though the legal age is 13 years to use the site. According to a consumer report in 2011:

  • Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million—or more than one-third—were younger than 13 and not supposed to be able to use the site.

  • Among young users, more than 5 million were 10 and under, and their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents.

  • One million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on the site in the past year. (2011)

  • Clearly, using Facebook presents children and their friends and families with safety, security, and privacy risks.

Ms Nunan is advising parents to check their children’s phone privacy settings, and make sure they are only connected to other children that they know. She said there is filtering software available for smartphones to help parents restrict access to the internet.

According to Ms Nunan’s comments in Irish Examiner:
“Parents are the primary educators and the first line of defence in the prevention of bullying. Schools can educate children through the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme. In schools children can learn how to safeguard themselves and others when online but parents need to keep their children safe.”


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