Internet safety charity CyberSafeIreland is to launch the first ever 24-hour ‘Cyber Break’ in Ireland, with the hope that families across the country can take a day off from online activities.
CyberSafeIreland wants people to take a break from their screens and devices from 5pm on Friday, October 16 for 24 hours until 5pm on Saturday, October 17.
The aim is that instead of logging on, families can participate in other activities, including some of those contained in a Family Fun Guide which can be downloaded (in advance) from the CyberSafeIreland website.
The charity also wants families to use the break to discuss how they can find a healthy balance between their online and offline lives.
Families can also download and print off 'cybersafe shields' for their devices and place them across any screens for the 24-hour period to avoid the temptation to go online or play games.
CyberSafeIreland said it is also trying to use the Cyber Break as a fundraising opportunity so it can invest in developing more educational resources and support services for children, parents and teachers.
Its fundraising capabilities have been significantly affected this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has also seen schools suspended and many children relying on screens and online not just for entertainment but for aspects of their education.
CyberSafeIreland's annual report for 2019 found that 93% of 8-to-12-year-olds own their own smart device, 65% are on social media and more than 70% are gaming online but the charity said the likelihood is that the coronavirus outbreak will have resulted in even more screen time this year for many young people.
CyberSafeIreland CEO Alex Cooney said: “There is no question that Covid-19 increased our dependence on our devices exponentially.
"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."
Joanna Fortune, Psychotherapist, Parenting Consultant and Author of the 15-Minute Parenting series, said: “A screen-free family day is a welcome and great opportunity to connect while disconnecting.
The Cyber Break is being conducted in collaboration with the Permanent TSB Community Fund through the Bank’s community partnership with the charity and its Head of Corporate Affairs, Leontia Fannin said: "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."
*For information and resources to assist with the Cyber Break, visit cybersafeireland.org/cyber-break