Teenagers Lauren Reynolds and Muireann Whelan both addressed TDs in the Dáil last week about the issue of online safety and teenagers. They both joined Sean O’Rourke this morning to tell him more about what they have learned. As Sean noted, so many conversations about this topic talk about teenagers but few involve teenagers themselves.
Lauren is in 5th year. She told Sean that she’s had a smartphone since she was 13 years old
“We were kind of growing with it so we kind of had to learn for ourselves. But the age is lowering and lowering and you can see it really striking to primary students now...Even in school, you’d be like checking in break, checking in lunch, in between classes. If a teacher’s like ‘free class’, you whip out the phone, check any new snapchats or what’s new on the internet. As soon as you get home, check on the phone, do homework, back on the phone.”
Muireann explained that she and Lauren are both ambassadors for Webwise and recently conducted workshops for younger students on “Internet Safety Day”, February 6th. They talked to them about privacy, blocking individuals and identity on the internet. Lauren explained that there is somewhat of a generation gap between them and the younger students.
“I think the worrying thing is it’s not so much our age, we’re kind of at the age where we understand that it is wrong. So, it is mostly younger people. But what is big is that like older men would target younger girls.”
She explained to Sean that she has had personal experience of this.
“There has been cases where people would have added me and I would have added them back, thinking I might know them. Or even the case where they might have the same name as someone I may know and would’ve snapped at me and I’d realise, ‘Oh, I don’t know you. Block. There you go. Bye.“
Muireann believes that social media and bullying can go hand-in-hand.
“I think bullying has increased since social media has increased, definitely…it could be a way of excluding people. Like, you could see your friends all met up and you weren’t invited…everyone shows everyone what they’re doing every second of every day.”
As for an idea on how to help, Lauren gave the example of her own school, where smartphones were banned for first-year students.
“The first years were allowed to stay kids. They didn’t feel the pressure of needing to be on social media or having to keep up with it because they could escape from it.”
Over the past few weeks, a number of cases have shone a spotlight on the lack of regulation of social media here in Ireland and sparked a discussion as to how we can best keep young people safe online.Often those discussions feature adults well meaning adults, but adults all the same. Second level students Lauren Reynolds, and Muireann Whelan addressed TDs on this issue last week and they came into studio to discuss this issue with Sean O'Rourke this morning. // Watch // Like // Share //
Posted by RTÉ Radio 1 on Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Listen back to the whole segment on online safety for teenagers here.
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