116. Schools shouldn’t responsible for parental choices around purchasing smart devices

Once upon a time a school in Co. Kerry decided to ban smartphones. This wouldn’t be an unusual story as a lot of schools have a ban on Smartphone use. However, this story has an extra layer.

The ban extended to outside school hours.

My first thoughts were: why did the school have to be the one to put a ban on social media outside of school. Isn’t that parents’ jobs?

My second thoughts were focussed on why a school would try and ban this technology rather than teaching them responsible usage but that’s for another article.

Anyway, the minister for education at the time, Richard Bruton thought this was a grand idea and a circular was released to all schools about it

Thankfully most schools have ignored it despite some weird obsession by certain tabloid newspapers highlighting every bad thing that happens to a child when they irresponsibly use a mobile phone as an argument to ban Smartphones from children.

The ship has sailed. Personally, I won’t be giving my child a Smartphone any time soon but I can see that other parents clearly don’t have the same ideas as me. Whether I agree with them or not isn’t my business. Yes, I’d love to meet up with my friend for a coffee for longer than 20 minutes before my toddler goes nuts, but I’m not going to give him access to a Smartphone. Other parents routinely go to cafes and restaurants and, straight away, the devices come out of the bag. 

Schools need to avoid getting involved in parenting. It’s creeping in, in a variety of ways, whether that’s Smartphone usage or diet. Even if we believe things to be wrong, it is not up to schools to police them.

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