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Seamus Coleman says he’s determined to protect his kids from the perils of social media

‘There is no getting away from anything these days. If a kid was having problems at school, they would tend to end at the school gate’

Seamus Coleman is backing the SPAR Better Choices campaign

Kevin PalmerSunday World

REPUBLIC of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman and his wife Rachel are determined to ensure their three kids are not exposed to the perils of social media and the internet.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World at a SPAR Better Choices event, Coleman told us that he is determined to protect his children Lilly, Ellie and Blake from a world that has changed so much since his youth.

Seamus grew up in Killybegs, County Donegal, in an era when Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity were still fanciful ideas.

Yet the world has changed over the last two decades, with youngsters now needing to be peeled away from their mobile phones or YouTube channels.

All parents of young children now have concerns the previous generations were spared and Coleman admits he and his wife Rachel are determined to ensure their children do not have free reign on social media platforms.

“This issue of the internet and what our kids are looking at is a concern for all parents,” begins Everton skipper Coleman.

“I go back to my childhood and while I’m sounding old here, I didn’t get a mobile phone until the age of 12 and we didn’t have Wi-Fi everywhere we went.

“That meant we could not have instant access to the things they see on the internet.

Seamus Coleman on the perils of social media for kids

“Back when I was a kid, we were out of the streets playing football with their friends and growing up in a more simple world.

“There is no getting away from anything these days. If a kid was having problems at school, they would tend to end at the school gate.

“Now, those problems are even worse now with social media because they can’t escape from it when they get home now.

“Social media is good in some ways and there are some positives with it. The same goes for online platforms that kids can learn from, but then you have the other side of it.

“My daughter is six and knows all about TikTok, but my wife and I don’t have it on our phones because kids tend to grab them when you are not looking and get to see what you don’t want them to.

“We have spoken about making sure we look at what they watch and there are some kids shows on Netflix we let them watch, but everything needs to be in small portions.

“It can have a massive impact on kids if they spend too much time in front of screens and as our kids get older, we are going to have to zone in on what is coming their way.”

Coleman’s grounded attitude has helped to ensure he has never been tainted by the fame and fortune that has come his way over the course of a career that kicked into top gear when he sealed a move from Sligo Rovers to Everton in 2009.

The 33-year-old is now the longest-serving player at a single Premier League club and despite his high profile in Ireland and the UK, he has never created the negative headlines footballers can attract.

Here is an outstanding role model who does not have a back catalogue of images showing him falling out of nightclubs or getting into trouble with the police for late night spats.

And Seamus credits his parents Henry and Máire, as well as his wife, for giving him the stable foundations to become one of Ireland’s most successful soccer stars.

“Going back to the beginning before it all started for me in football, my parents were so important in my upbringing and how you should treat people,” he continues.

“Now my wife is a fantastic support when I’m going out the door to work, maybe for a ten day international break, and you are leaving three busy kids behind with your wife.

“There’s a lot to be done around the house, a lot of hungry kids to feed, a lot of school uniforms to be washed and school lunches to be packed. So I’m very grateful to my wife for everything she does.

“My family has been massively important to my success because you need that stable background without too many distractions to focus on your career as a sportsman.

“I’m as hands-on as I possibly can be as a Dad. The kids’ schools are on the way to my work and it means I can drop them off and also pick them up some days.

“Also, marriage is all about team work. Making sure you do things together and me and my wife work well in that respect.”

Unlike many sporting heroes, Coleman has rarely attached himself to promotional campaigns to rake in extra cash, but he is proud to support the SPAR Better Choices campaign, that promotes healthy eating for all.

“I don’t usually put my name to promotions, but when the SPAR Better Choices campaign was brought to my attention, I wanted to get involved,” he added.

“The focus is on healthy eating for kids and as a Dad of three, I feel like I’m the right man for it now.

“A lot of the time, we are eating on the go. You are picking the kids up from school, taking them to gymnastics and you don’t get time to go home.

“SPAR better choices makes it easy to stay eating healthy food when you are on the go and we owe it to our kids to do that for them.”

As part of the SPAR Better Choices campaign, SPAR has created recipe ideas for lunch boxes, after school snacks and weekend treats that are packed full of nutritious fruit and vegetables and help encourage healthy habits into weekly routines.

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