Following on from last week’s conversation about child safety on social media, the internet, and smartphones, Ryan Tubridy’s listeners have plenty to say, as does he.

Isobel Hynes, a second-year student from Coláiste Treasa in Cork shared findings from her BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition project entitled A Statistical Analysis of the Impact of Internet Parenting, Parental Latitude, and Family Functionality on the Susceptibility of an Adolescent to Internet Addiction.

What all that means is she looked at factors that influence internet addiction, which has become increasingly prevalent in our society, not least amongst our teens. Isobel’s findings were worrying, frankly. 

99% of second and third years surveyed owned a phone and the average time spent on it per day was a whopping 3 hours and 43 minutes.

That’s a bit of a shocker, especially given the American Academy of Pediatrics guide of a maximum of 2 hours.

phone
Nearly 70% bring their phones up to bed with them.

"I found that if you used your phone or your device in your bedroom you were more likely to be addicted to the internet. 

"This was a very big result for me because most people actually do sleep with their phones so the internet addiction rate in Ireland is going up because of this. Nearly 70% bring their phones up to bed with them." 

Isobel found that children as young as 5 were receiving phones and given that you’re far more likely to be addicted to your phone if you have it for three years or longer, this isn’t boding well for our youngsters. 

When it comes to parental responses, Isobel says: "Some parents… didn’t want to know about it… some parents were concerned about their children and what they need to do is they need to be stricter. 

"It’s kind of like tough love. They need to be strict but the child needs to know that they’re doing it for their own good…  If you don’t explain why, the child isn’t going to listen."

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Isobel found that children as young as 5 were receiving phones

Later in the show, Ryan got a call from Karen, who was very concerned to discover that a 40-year-old man was attempting to follow her 13-year-old daughter on social media. 

Karen talked to her daughter about the friend requests she was receiving.

"I spoke to her the next morning… There was a bit of, ooh yuck, that was as much as it bothered her. I don’t think they’re aware of the possibilities. 

"They’re not aware of the consequences. If they do allow somebody, if there is bad intent there, they’re too young to be discerning… When I say there was one man, there were several girls but who’s to say who they are…  She didn’t know any of them." 

Karen contacted the Gardaí about the request from the 40-year-old and while they were very sympathetic, there is nothing that can be done in such cases as an offence hasn’t been committed. 

Karen’s job now is to protect her daughters as well as she can and to stop her husband committing an offence of his own: "I’m basically trying to hold my husband back from calling to this man at the moment!"

Listen to the full interview on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 above.