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To: The Taoiseach and Government

Let the public decide on the minimum legal age for Smart Phones

Please hold a referendum to let the public decide on the minimum legal age for Smart Phones

Why is this important?

*WARNING* Possible wake up call ahead, be prepared to grab the wheel!

To all the parents like myself on all the WhatsApp groups, checking the time of GAA training for tomorrow...

Recently driving home from work I felt I was nodding off a bit, a product of this modern world, too much on, too much running around, too much technology coming at me, I'm exhausted to be honest! When I got home and after doing the domestic dance of who's making dinner that night, I fell in front of what was my "babysitter" growing up - the TV. At the same time my kids are spread out all over the house in front of their modern "babysitter" - the mobile phone. Why did I get them these devices? Because you got them for your kids, and you got them because I got them for my kids, peer pressure at its worst!

The internet is an amazing tool, the reason you are reading this message, but we all know there is the dark side that we don't like to think about, is it a case of modern life has us so tired that we are asleep at the wheel or are we just turning a blind eye? The internet is like a car, difficult to live without one, safe and practical in the hands of an adult, but give a car to a 12-16 year old and it's possibly a form of abuse! Dangerous to the child and dangerous to those around that child! The state has a dark history of child abuse, something you would think would not happen again in our modern society, that we would not let it happen on our watch, however abuse can come in many subtle forms! Are we all guilty of staying quiet like all those cases years ago, choosing the easier path!? The media is awash with the side effects of these devices - social media anxiety, mental health issues, shore attention span, behavioural issues, desensitization to violence, social disruption, sleeping disorders, eating disorders, underage sex, teenage pregnancies, underage sex crimes - the list goes on, it’s some punishment on our kids and on our communities just so they can be "connected" and watch a few dance videos! Even with something as trivial as dance videos you start to realise the algorithms are pushing more and more sexualized content towards you! 

The sexualization of our kids at such a young age and the normalization of that fact is a serious modern-day issue. "You need to build a relationship with your kids, educate your kids" - this is what most internet guides tell parents. Good advice but it only addresses "pull" technology i.e. educate your kids not to go looking for the darker side of the internet. The problem is exacerbated now by "push" technology such as Snapchat where the darker side comes looking for you! Everything is not how it seems when it comes to Snapchat, on one side there is what appears to be a harmless app where kids can swap funny photos etc. On the other side it’s an unregulated, unfiltered, hidden, dark network, where kids can make and receive any kind of content they like, and I mean ANYTHING! Sure, wasn't there always a playboy magazine knocking around back in the day I hear you say, but the playboy magazine didn't contain graphical content of underage kids, and wasn't interactive, asking you to create content back! If you said 20 years ago that we're going to create a device and put it into each child's pocket and one thing it will enable is for kids to send naked pictures and videos of themselves to each other, then people would have thought you were crazy! Snapchat knows this but are too busy making millions, it will argue they are only supplying the pipes, the kids are the ones pushing the toxic water through. It's the gun manufacture debate, they only make the guns, you're the one pulling the trigger. Just like web email has filters, Snapchat could implement filters, they choose not to, they could even put AI software in place that says “we know that's you, cop yourself on”! As a 16-year-old, I would have been all over Snapchat, it has the thrill of a new relationship, aspects of gaming (fishing for better rewards) as well as the titillation! The content circulating on Snapchat can trigger kids to have an interest in porn, they then go looking for stronger content in other places on the internet. There's also a known sextortion scam circulating on Snapchat which has led to numerous shocking suicides!

People say you can't change Society, but Society is the people, Society is us, we can change! Why did we get the phones in the first place? Society put peer pressure on us to get them, so let’s put peer pressure back on Society to change, then Society can go full circle and remove the phones! I believe most parents deep down know we've made a mistake with access to these phones at too early an age. Forget all the serious issues above, even just to get rid of the domestic arguments around screen time would make them worth removing! This is the cigarettes of our time causing the cancer in our Society, I truly believe in 10 years’ time people will look back and say, “what the hell were we thinking?!” 

Our government knows they are awash with social and underage issues but are they asleep at the wheel or is it a case of too little too late? Are they willing to take on the phone manufacturers?! 

The ask here is that you put your name to this petition asking for a public vote on mobile phones. I believe if the vote was put to the public, the public would do the right thing! 

Thanks for reading, let's keep our kids safe out there!

Sound Bytes Sam

Updates

2024-06-14 18:56:33 +0100

10 signatures reached