The Irish primary school curriculum must be “overhauled” to include education on the dangers of TikTok and similar platforms, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Martin said TikTok being fined €345 million by Europe’s media watchdog following their mishandling of children’s data was “very serious and concerning.”
“I think it has to be integrated very, very quickly into the SPHE programme,” he said, and stated that the proposal to ban phones in school, will not work on its own.
Martin, who served as a history teacher prior to a career in politics, said “I would also favour a more structured approach where we create templates whereby parents, teachers, and children together work through these issues with children – we really have to make children aware of the dangers.”
He said the issue raises two questions – the “specific issue with TikTok and particularly the idea of allowing access of adults to children” and how the Irish education system navigates the technological space.
“All technology has inherent challenges and dangers in terms of privacy, in terms of access, particularly for young people and children. We have to be very vigilant in respect of protecting children, and that the regulatory framework is tough enough to ensure that all of the platforms realise the centrality of protecting children online,” he said.
TikTok has come into conflict with numerous global governments over their handling of data and their privacy settings, with Irish government officials instructed not to install the app on official government devices earlier this year.
There have been numerous concerns that TikTok and its parent company ByteDance may put sensitive user data, such as location and biometric information, into the hands of the Chinese government.
The Chinese-owned app has become the subject of a ban on all personal devices in the American state of Montana, with the app unable to be downloaded onto new devices from January 2024, with the ruling currently being challenged in court.