Minister for Mental Health Jim Daly has vowed to continue to hold a tough line on the regulation of smart phones.

Minister for Mental Health Jim Daly has vowed to continue to hold a tough line on the regulation of smart phones

Responding to disclosures that he had written to Leo Varadkar to warn the Taoiseach that smart technology was ‘the single biggest threat to our nation’s children’ Mr Daly said

‘’Some people say that you are a Luddite if you criticize smart phone technology. I believe you are being smart in openly criticizing smart technology.

A key area of responsibility for me is children’s mental health and I would be failing in my duties if I did not express the gravest concern about the consequences of the current free-for all’’.

Mr Daly said; ‘’a constituent recently told me that giving a child unfettered access to a smart phone is the moral equivalent of giving them a loaded gun. You might be lucky but you don’t really know what the consequences will be’’.

She said; ‘’We forget, children and adolescents are terribly vulnerable. Giving them un-restricted access to the worst of the internet is the psychological equivalent of playing Russian roulette with their mental health’’.

Minister Daly said; ‘’I could not argue with the statement, it is to my mind astonishing that we regulate to keep children out of pubs after 9pm, and rightly so, and we regulate areas as diverse creches and sports, but we have no regulation for this key area’’.

Smart phones, he warned; ‘’currently and in the future will play a huge immeasurable role in the formation of our children’s minds.

Parents are worried we are sleepwalking into a timebomb where their children’s mental well-being is being impacted upon and don’t quite know what to do. Government has a responsibility to respond to what people are saying on the ground’’.

Mr Daly had previously proposed a Bill where it would be illegal to provide certain content to minors and sales to those under fourteen would be punishable.

The Minister, however, told the Southern Star that; ‘’building awareness amongst parents about consequences and solutions and developing a culture of corporate social responsibility will play a leading role and may be a more achievable long-term solution’’.

We need, he said; ‘’to work together to create a society where children can still be children. We need also to be consumed by the ambition to ensure Ireland is a leader in doing the right thing by children. I am glad that the Taoiseach has acted on my concerns by setting up a cross departmental group earlier this year, who are due to report to him in the coming weeks with a set of recommendations”.

 

 

Minister Daly at Drinagh N.S. , launching Internet Safety campaign