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Irish ‘screenagers’ currently averaging 7.5 hours online per day

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, speaking at last night’s (Monday 27th February) public meeting on internet safety for parents, has said that Irish teenagers are currently averaging a whopping 7.5 hours online per day.

The Meath based Minister said “I was absolutely blown away at my Internet Safety public meeting last night when faced with some of the facts and figures presented by our guest speaker, and RTE agony uncle, Dr Enda Murphy.   

“What became clear very quickly was the reality that, as parents and guardians, there is much we do not know about what our children and teenagers face in the digital world on a daily basis.

“Dr Enda Murphy was thankfully on hand to provide some solid advice as to how we can communicate with our children about how and where they are at risk.

“With Irish female teenagers averaging over 80 online communications per day there is without doubt a need for a healthy conversation to take place at home and in the classroom. 

“Enda has achieved immense work over the years with a view to fine-tuning our understanding and maintenance of mental health in both ourselves, and in our children, and teenagers, or should I say screenagers. 

“Mental health is a lot more than just the absence of mental illness - positive mental health is a skill that should be practiced every day. With our teenagers conducting a considerable amount of socialising on their phones and iPads, the remedy to maintaining positive mental health and protecting our children is, according to Dr Murphy, as simple as taking the time to talk with them and agree on screen boundaries as a family. 

“Leading by example is indeed an important caveat in this conversation. As someone who conducts a lot of my work online, asking my own children to cut back on internet usage means I must also follow suit, and yes, this will be a challenge for us all.”

“Speaking to over one hundred parents and guardians in Dunboyne Castle last night, Dr Murphy, made a strong case insisting that our teenagers are not young adults, rather, they are older children. Moreover, he insists that we can collectively combat digital hazards by openly communicating with our children and agreeing on screen boundaries.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “Teenagers view themselves as they are viewed by others – if you don’t like me, I don’t like me. This is the sobering reality of growing up in the digital age with the risk of bullying and intimidation often heightened when online. It is an onus on us all - parents, guardians and teachers – to effectively protect our children from what can be a silent predator in the form of cyberbullying.”