Is it time to ban phones from our schools?

Some 90 percent of Australian students admit to using devices in class, and research shows kids get better marks in personal-tech-free zones. So should schools ban phones outright?

The French government says yes. It’s prohibited all students under 15 from using smartphones during school hours. Australia may be poised to follow suit.

 

A British study has shown smartphone bans improve student performance by an average of more than six percent - with the effect  disproportionately strong among low-achieving students. (High achievers appeared to do fine with phones or without.)

Closer to home, the New South Wales state government has recently launched its own study, under the leadership of acclaimed psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg.

Dr. Carr-Gregg will review phone bans in France and Albania and release Australian recommendations by the end of 2018.

Do schools have a “Digital Duty of Care”?

Most commentators agree that, for primary-aged children, devices are distracting and, worse, may promote anti-social behaviour.

“That borders on issues around duty of care for young people,” notes Darren Stevenson, educator and chief executive of after-school provider Extend.

Leading digital safety educator Susan (“The Cyber Cop”) McLean, an adviser to the federal government’s Cyber Safety Working Group, agrees. A Family Zone cyber expert, McLean warns further that schools who do nothing risk being sued for failure to provide duty of care.

Citing the tragic suicide of 14-year-old cyberbullying victim Amy “Dolly” Everett earlier this year, McLean adds that schools that interpret their duty of care as an “offline” responsibility need a digital wake-up call.

dollyDolly's suicide: Unspeakable tragedy - and a wake-up call for schools

McLean supports a ban on phones for primary schools - as do many other experts, including University of NSW education professor Dr. Pasi Sahlberg. A “clear ban would be easiest for everyone,” he points out. But educating students about digital balance and wellbeing is essential too.

How would it work for teens?

For older students, an outright ban could backfire, observes Dr. Joanne Orlando, a technology and learning researcher at Western Sydney University.

“It can lead to children being more secretive in their phone use and that means adults and teachers might not be made aware when things go wrong.”

 

“When I talk to teenagers about these sort of bans, they normally saying something like ‘well, that just means I have to use my phone in a less obvious way’,” she said.

“It can lead to children being more secretive in their phone use and that means adults and teachers might not be made aware when things go wrong.”

Students need to be taught about safe and balanced technology use, Dr. Orlando insists - not forbidden to use their phones.

Balance starts with limits

But all experts agree that balance requires limits. “Schools need to ask themselves, what are the educational risks and the educational benefits to allowing kids unrestricted access to personal phones?

"The truth is, in most cases, there are no educational benefits. It’s all risks,” says Family Zone cyber expert  and former undercover internet detective Brett Lee.

Both McLean and Lee cite schools that have successfully implemented no-phone policies - that require students to hand in phones at the start of the school day, and retrieve them at the final bell. But Lee admits that the practice could present logistical and resource challenges for many schools.

Ban - or manage?

“Plus, when we use the word ‘ban’ - it’s too black and white. In an ideal world, school communities would be better off if no child had access to a personal mobile device during the school day.”

In the real world, where many parents (and virtually all students) would object to an outright  ban, Lee is a strong advocate for digital management software like Family Zone. “Family Zone is the perfect solution for managing kids’ personal devices at school - because it puts the parent in the driver’s seat, no matter where the child happens to be.”


Family Zone allows schools to manage student devices during school hours - and empowers parents to do the same outside of school ... on every device, everywhere. No wonder it's the parental control solution of choice for thousands of families in Australia and beyond. 


Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, smartphones, classroom management, distraction

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | musical.ly | Social Media | tiktok | child development | self-harm | sexualisation
    One mum's jaw-dropping journey through TikTok
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Pornography | Cyber Safety | Social Media | parenting | digital parenting
    Pornstar to parents: shame on you!
    Parental Controls | Screen time | musical.ly | online predators | tiktok
    It's the world's most popular app. And you've probably never heard of it.
    Parental Controls | Screen time | teens on social media | wellbeing | dating app
    Swipe right for trouble: Six teen dating apps parents need to know about
    Parental Controls | online gaming | Social Media | primary school | krunker
    Krunker has landed - and it's got our kids in the crosshairs

    Recent posts

     
    "Houseparty" is off the hook right now: What parents need to know

    Teen-targeted video-chatting app Houseparty has exploded over the past two weeks, as housebound kids turn to their screens to connect with ...

     
    The "new normal" brings new online risks for kids

    In these difficult times, protecting your family’s health is a 24/7 commitment - and it’s not only their physical wellbeing you need to ...

     
    "Never let a good crisis go to waste"

    Winston Churchill’s famous observation - made during the bleakest days of World War II - have a lot to teach us today, as we grapple with ...

     
    Juggling screen-time in the Age of Coronavirus, and other feats of extreme parenting

    Chances are good both you and your partner are now working from home - and quite possibly trying to home-school the kids at the same time. ...