Is Banning Smartphones the Answer to Children’s Online Safety? | JSB Talks Digital Podcast

Is Banning Smartphones the Answer to Children’s Online Safety?

JSB Talks Digital is a weekly digital marketing and social media podcast hosted by author, strategist, consultant, speaker and trainer Joanne Sweeney-Burke. Each Friday Joanne shares her digital marketing and social media insights from her work as CEO of Digital Training Institute. 

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In this episode I discuss draft legislation which would make it illegal for retail outlets to sell a mobile phone with Internet access to minors under the age of 14.

Coming up in the podcast:

  • In social media news:
    • You can now ask questions and vet people for Facebook Groups.
    • Are we getting closer to having YouTube Live on mobile for everyone?
    • Instagram now allows posting outside the app.
  • I interview Deputy Jim Daly, the Fine Gael TD responsible for the proposed Internet Access for Minors Bill 2017 and I also get the views of parents about whether they support the draft legislation or not;
  • In shout-outs: Three digital citizenship tips to help you be an awesome cyber-wise parent;
  • Marie and Marie-Clare Ask JSB and I answer their questions on air;
  • In JSB’s column – Why legislate when we can educate our children about online safety? and;
  • Find out what cyber safety tool will make your week.


Social Media News

Facebook allows questions in Groups

How often have you found that non-relevant members join your Facebook Group? Does this annoy you or do you think it creates a mixed message space for other members?

Well it seems that Facebook has been thinking along these lines too as we can now screen new members with a questionnaire in Groups.

Group admins can ask up to three questions to people requesting to join their Group which can be used to vet new members.

Facebook says this feature has now rolled out to 100% of Group admins globally.

If you are a Group Admin you can find the “Ask Pending Members Questions” option in your Group’s settings menu.

Facebook Member Request Settings

You then have the option to create up to three questions that potential members can answer in up to 250 characters each. Only admins and moderators see the answers to the questions, which are not posted to the group.

Previously if an admin wanted to inquire about why someone wanted to join their group, they’d have to either friend them, or try to send a Facebook Message that would likely be buried in their Message Requests.


YouTube Live on Mobile for Everyone?

YouTube is reportedly letting more people live-stream from their mobile. However, it’s not available to everyone despite mixed reports of same.

The company is said to be dropping a requirement that users have more than 1,000 subscribers.

I updated my YouTube iOS app this week and I noticed it was renamed from “YouTube – Watch, Upload and Share Videos” to “YouTube – Watch Videos, Music, and Live Clips.”

YouTube Live

Mobile live streaming allows users to “go live” from their smartphones in order to stream directly to their YouTube channel. This is a feature I’d love to have, I’m so used to being able to do it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Initially, mobile live streaming was open to those who had 10,000 channel subscribers or more – making it accessible only to YouTube’s bigger content creators. Then, in April, the company dropped that down to just 1,000 subscribers as it continued the gradual expansion of the service, so I’ve a bit go to yet!

Don’t forget you can subscribe to my YouTube Channel.


Instagram allows posting outside the app

Instagram has always demanded that we post images directly to their mobile app but not outside of it. That’s until now!

When you go to on your mobile device, you can upload an image direct, without having to open the app. Currently, it’s still not possible to upload images from the desktop version of the site.

This is a significant expansion for Instagram – while for most users, opening the app is no problem is relevant for users in developing regions where there is greater growth opportunities.

Instagram also recently announced a new offline mode, which enables users to browse and leave comments in areas with less reliable connectivity.


Interview | Fine Gael Deputy Jim Daly

Jim DalyA new Bill that will make it illegal for retail outlets to sell a mobile phone with Internet access to minors under the age of 14 in Ireland is currently being drafted.

Under the proposed Internet Access for Minors Bill 2017, it will also be illegal for parents to allow their children born after 2015 to own a portable device which has the Internet. Fine Gael Deputy Jim Daly is the TD behind the Bill and he joins me on today’s show to talk about his Bill and the motivation behind it.

But first, I went onto the streets of Galway to ask parents if they agreed with Deputy Daly’s draft Bill. Tune in to the podcast to hear the parents’ answers and Deputy Daly’s answers to my questions below.

Q1. What prompted you to work on this legislation? Was it your background as a teacher?

Q2. Do you think that there is an argument to be made for Government responsibility when it comes to digital citizenship, teaching children at primary and continuing it at secondary level about the safe, savvy and ethical use of the Internet?

Q3. I’ve been to schools across Ireland telling them about a course my daughter Sophie and I developed called Young Minds Online. Many wanted it but said that there wasn’t any funding for it, nor was there an appetite by teachers to take on more work. Sophie and I also met with former Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn two years ago and he said the role of educating teens and tweens on cyber safety wasn’t one for Government. What’s your view on this?

Q4. How will this legislation be policed or enforced if passed?

Q5. Have you much support from your Cabinet colleagues? What is the initial feedback?

Q6. Are you confident it will be passed?

Q7. Do you think this law is effectively letting parents off the hook when it comes to educating their children about cyber safety? Isn’t it just like teaching your kids to be street wise and how to cross the road?

Q8. Is a law such as this a retrospective step and a sign of a nanny state pointing finger?



Ask JSB brings the voices of my listeners onto the show. So you now have an opportunity to ask me a question, have it aired on the podcast and I will respond.

If you want to hear your voice on JSB Talks Digital simply log on to and you might find yourself and your question on air!

In this week’s episode, I answer the following two listener questions:

Q1: Will video and vlogging kill blogging?

Q2: When building a community online with Facebook Groups, what the best way to lay out group rules. Some groups seem to be just a selling platform and more are support type groups. Larger groups can get out of hand easily if effective rules are not in place.


Shout-Outs: Three digital citizenship tips to help you protect your child online

In this part of the show I give shout-outs to brands, organisations and individuals whose work online is remarkable and worth talking about.

But in today’s show I’m sharing three digital citizenship tips to help you protect your child online.


1) Educate, educate, educate

Educate yourself – there is no way you can parent in the Digital Age if you don’t have some knowledge of the Internet. It’s not to say that you need to be a social web whizz! But you have to understand the basics to make judgement calls about your son or daughter’s Internet activity.

Educate your child – what better way to learn how to navigate the social web than by learning with your child? While they are teaching you what they know, you can teach them to be cyber-wise, just as you teach them to be street-wise. Your role as a parent in protecting and empowering with knowledge has just expanded to include technology.

You should also let your child know that it’s illegal to use social networks under the age of 13 according to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA.

And never stop updating your knowledge. Every day can be a digital school day. Find some reliable web sources which you can subscribe to such as


2) Have digital conversations openly and frequently

Speaking to your child openly about the Internet and social media is healthy and recommended. Ignoring these conversations might suggest to your child that either a) you are not interested or b) that they cannot tell you something that may be on their mind about their online activity.

Just like any other areas of parenting, being open and being that trusted source of non-judgmental support is invaluable.

I am the parent of two children – Bobby aged seven and Sophie aged 21. I parented Sophie through the Digital Age when Bebo and Facebook were in their infancy, and together we made digital citizenship a central part of our conversations.


3) Agree a social media policy that you and your child sign up to

I have developed a social media contract for parents and children around social media and Internet activity. I thought it was a useful way of building mutual understanding and respect for each other’s views around cyber wellbeing.

This contract should be signed by parents and any relevant children and placed in a prominent position in your household such as the fridge door. Nothing is missed on that spot I always find!

If you would like me to send you this document or would like me to speak to your school, community group or to parents in your company about digital citizenship, simply email me to [email protected].


JSB’s Column | Why legislate when we can educate our children about online safety?

In today’s column, I’m asking why more emphasis is not being placed on educating our children about digital and social media by Governments?

I’m wondering if talk of digital legislation such as that proposed by Deputy Jim Daly is letting parents off the hook?

I parented Sophie through her social media journey as a young Mum. She was 13 and I was 30. Together we grew up with Facebook and saw how it changed our lives.

But I was still the responsible adult, getting to grips with this new technology, understanding how it worked for me, but more importantly understanding how it worked for her.

Fast-forward eight years and my now seven-year old Bobby is an avid gamer and Snapchatter. NOTE: He only snaps to me, his Dad and his sister in our company.

Bobby lives in a time where social media is a fundamental way in which he communicates. Direct and instant messages dominated by videos, filters and text overlays. While he has a firm grip on technology older adults do not.

Sophie and I have met a previous Minister for Education about the role of Government and schools in providing expert training and skills in this area. However, Minister Ruairi Quinn believed this gap could be filled by the private sector.

Now we have a new Government suggesting legislation to ban smartphones with Internet access to under 14s.


Parenting in the Digital Age

Last October Sophie and I spoke at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco about Digital Citizenship – the safe, savvy and ethical use of the Internet. I opened our presentation with a tale about being suitably equipped to parent Sophie in the early noughties as she began using social media. It was this experience that both inspired, and compelled me, to be a proactive digcit parent.

When Sophie was 13 I wrote a social media contract for us that we both signed and stuck to. We had a mutual agreement on how she would use social media and how I would respect her use of it once we kept to the rules.

Eight years later this social media contract would become a resource shared with the 300 million customers of Internet security company Kaspersky Lab. Our experiences allowed us develop resources for parents, Gen Z’ers, corporates and educators.

Sophie and I take to stages and boardrooms, schools and classrooms to deliver our digital citizenship messages. We are living in remarkable times and the social web provides us with endless opportunities to connect, share, inspire, motivate and co-create but we must do it safely, being social web savvy and with an ethical approach.

When you empower yourself with knowledge, the fear evaporates and the passions flow. The fear I felt as a 17-year old single parent reminds me of the fear parents feel trying to navigate the social web with their children. But there is no need and that’s why I am filled with passion to share our positive parent/teen experiences with anyone who wants to listen.

Sophie was central to the development of seven modules four years ago that would become Young Minds Online and which was added to a curriculum in a Galway school for one academic year. By road-testing the resources we were able to iterate and tailor the content for other audiences. We also saw the value in education – we empowered those teens to make better online decisions and they thanks us for it.

The speed of digital and social media change means that all of us, social savvy or not, have to keep out knowledge up to date.

I fear that legislation to ban Internet access on smartphones is just another way of letting parents off the hook.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this subject. Tweet me your views to @tweetsbyJSB.

If you want to know more about developing a digital citizenship strategy for your school, workplace or organisation please get in touch. Simply drop me an email to: [email protected]


Social Media Tool of the Week

Kaspersky Safe KidsThe tool that will save your week if you are worried about your children’s cyber safety is SafeKids from Kaspersky Lab.

I have worked with Kaspersky Lab providing them e-learning courses.

Their mobile app allows you to monitor your children’s communications wherever you are.

As well as keeping watch over incoming and outgoing calls and texts – on their Android phones and tablets you can also monitor your kids’ public Facebook activities.

Kaspersky Safe Kids shows you your children’s locations on a real-time map, plus you can define a safe area that you expect your kids to stay within.

If one of your children leaves the safe area, you’ll automatically receive an alert on your mobile phone.

* Full functionality is available for PCs, Mac computers and Android phones and tablets. For iPhones and iPads, you can only apply age-appropriate limitations.

Find out more at There are free options and paid for options.


I love feedback

I’d love to know what you think about this episode. So please get in touch by commenting below or tweet me @tweetsbyJSB or send me a snap to jsbsnaps.

Review JSB Talks Digital on iTunes


Listen: JSB Talks Digital | Episode #49

I would like to thank Eoghan Murphy aka The Galway Gamer for producing my podcast series and to Flirt FM on the campus of NUI, Galway where I am based for the use of their studio.

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1 Comment

  • Sammy Blackmore Reply

    Nice read. I think banning smartphones would only make children more curious to find what’s out there on the web. It would be really better if you educate them just like what’s mentioned in this article.

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