Have you and your family been spending far too much time online over the past couple of months? The Cyber Break initiative could help with just that.
Depending on your device of choice you might be familiar with the little ping notification that helps to inform you of how much time you’re spending online each week. The last thing you want to see on a Monday morning!
However sobering those stats can be it doesn’t take away from the reality that checking your mobile phone or simply browsing online has become the default position if you have even a second to spare.
And with more screen time being clocked up whilst working from home, it has become more important than ever to make sure we’re all getting a well-needed rest, both for our eyes and our mental health.
That’s why Permanent TSB has joined up with children’s internet safety charity CyberSafeIreland to promote its ‘Cyber Break’ campaign which encourages families across Ireland to ditch their devices for a full 24 hours this coming Friday.
The Cyber Break initiative is aimed at reminding parents and children just how important device-free family time is and promoting a healthy screen time balance.
CyberSafeIreland was set up in 2015 to provide expert guidance to primary schools, children and to parents in the safe and responsible use of all communications technologies. To date, the charity has spoken directly to 24,000 children and to 6,000 parents. The sessions provide practical advice on how to embrace the opportunities for learning and enjoyment that technology can deliver, whilst equipping them with the tools to avoid harm.
The planned Cyber Break will take place from 5pm on Friday the 16th of October to 5pm on Saturday the 17th of October and is all about finding a balance between time spent looking at screens and time spent with those we care about.
And what’s more, it's open for anyone to take part!
But before putting devices and screens aside, families can download CyberSafeIreland’s family fun guides which provide plenty of exciting activities for the whole family to enjoy during the break - available here.
The charity also provides printable Cyber Safe Shields to pop over device screens and gaming consoles to help stop the temptation to log on for even a couple of minutes.
The day is aimed primarily at promoting a healthy balance between our online and offline lives, for both us and our children, as well as prioritising the need for children to enjoy simple play.
Psychotherapist, Parenting Consultant and Author of the 15-Minute Parenting series, Joanna Fortune, who is supporting the day, said:
A screen free family day is a welcome and great opportunity to connect while disconnecting. We know that screens are a part of family life these days and we can use a day like this to playfully connect in other ways.
Overall, screen play should be the smallest part of children’s play experiences but where we are using screens, I like to advocate creative and playful ways to ensure that screens are a more engaging activity that parents and children can share together. Play is the language of children and any initiative that promotes more family play is to be celebrated.
By taking part, participants will also be able to make an online donation of their choosing to CyberSafeIreland which will be put towards developing more educational resources and support services for children, parents and teachers in Ireland.
The data behind the break
In its most recently published annual report, CyberSafeIreland found some interesting data to suggest that pre-teens and younger are extremely active online.
Data from the online safety charity showed that 93% of 8-12 year olds now own their own smart device.
Even more worryingly, 65% of those children surveyed have a presence on social media, with half of eight year olds surveyed shown to have their own social media account, with more than 70% of 8-12 years olds also gaming online.
Furthermore, one third of children have strangers as friends or followers online, with one in three pre-teens ‘bothered by content encountered while online’.
The data collected from CyberSafeIreland was completed pre-lockdown and does not include the increased time spent online in the past six months.
CEO of CyberSafeIreland, Alex Cooney said:
There is no question that COVID-19 increased our dependence on our devices exponentially. It is hard to imagine how we would have managed the full lockdown without the benefit of technology and yet many of us found ourselves online more than ever.
We are asking families just for this one day of the year to embrace this opportunity to take a short break from all things cyber, to think about whether or not we need to find a healthier balance and to see how we can survive without them. And don’t worry we will have loads of ideas on our website about what you can do over the 24-hours!
In partnership with PTSB
The whole initiative is made possible through the community partnership enjoyed between CyberSafe and The Permanent TSB Community Fund, the bank’s fund established to provide financial support to community organisations making a meaningful impact on the ground.
Through its Community Fund PTSB provides around €100,000 to community organisations, while the fund itself works in tandem with Staff Charities, and through a combined effort aims to contribute €300,000 back into local communities each year.
Since its establishment, the Staff Charities Fund has donated over €1 million to Irish Charity, supporting people, families and communities across the country.
Speaking about the initiative, Permanent TSB’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Leontia Fannin said:
We are delighted to partner with CyberSafeIreland for Ireland’s first ever ‘Cyber Break’. Children’s safety online has never been more important than now, as the time both children and adults are spending online has significantly increased since the onset of Covid-19.
The Permanent Community Fund was established to provide much needed support to organisations that are having a real and meaningful impact in communities across Ireland, something CyberSafeIreland has been doing since it was established in 2015.
For those who’d like to take part on Friday you can find more information, resources, top tips and advice by clicking here.