Phones could soon be gone from New South Wales class rooms as the state government launches an Australian-first review into the issue.
The review, announced by NSW Minister for Education Rob Stokes last week, will look to assess whether the benefits of having phones in schools weigh up to the risks.
“While smartphones connect us to the world in ways never imagined just a decade ago, they raise issues that previous generations have not had to deal with,” he said.
“In the classroom and in the playground, smartphones provide opportunities for students and parents to stay connected, but can also create other problems.
“From screen time, to cyberbullying and social media, smartphones have generated concerns for parents, teachers and students. Schools need to have better rules in place around phones.”
“It is important that we examine parameters around their use in schools to ensure that they are not a distraction from learning.”
The review will evaluate the effect of phones on children of different ages in terms of educational outcomes, while also measuring potential benefits from phones being used in the classroom as part of contemporary learning practices.
Issues such as cyberbullying, social media age restrictions, and students being contactable while travelling to and from school will also be investigated.
Leading the review will be child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg.
Dr Carr-Gregg discussed some possible models for regulating phone use amongst students.
“There are some schools where you actually have to hand them [phones] in at the beginning of the day and you pick them up at the end,” he said on Sunrise.
“There are other schools that permit it in lockers, there are other schools that let them have it at recess and lunchtime. There’s a lot of diverse practices and we’re going to look at world’s best practice.”
Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham praised the NSW government for the initiative.
“My view is that there is no place in the classroom for personal mobile phones, that technology has a role to play in the classroom and of course we need to facilitate that, but personal mobile phones are obviously a potential distraction in terms of access to social media sites, as well as potentially a source of bullying activities.
“So, I really welcome the leadership the New South Wales Government is showing by looking at whether in schools they can put better policies in place.”