Pupils’ phone use limited

BANNING the unsupervised use of mobile phones during school hours will help pupils learn to use the devices in a more constructive fashion, says a Clarence Valley school principal.

Clarence Valley Anglican School principal Tim Grosser said the ban, which will come into force on day one of the second term, is a proactive way of encouraging students to use mobile phones and other devices properly.

"A couple of weeks back we invited the police here to speak to the kids about social media," Mr Grosser said.

"They talked about all the good things social media provides, and they also talked about the legal issues.

"One of the things they mentioned was you had to be over 13 years to have a Facebook account. That surprised a few people."

The school sent a letter to parents last week, advising them of the school's mobile device usage policy.

"A student's time at school should be one free from the often meaningless distractions of the outside world," the letter read.

"The use of mobile devices by students at CVAS has started to become a significant issue for a number of reasons."

The letter said students were sometimes using the devices in class, taking photos of each other during breaks, sending and receiving texts from people outside school and playing games on devices instead of socialising with other children.

Mr Grosser said mobile devices had many positive uses and the school was keen to use them in a supervised way.

"If a teacher wants the students to do some quick research on a topic and they have access to mobile phones, they can all access the internet," he said.

Mr Grosser compared the debate about mobile devices to the advent of television.

"About 50 years ago we were having the same sort of debate about watching TV," he said.

"We need to realise there are many positive uses for these devices and assist kids in learning how to use them properly."

A spokesman from NSW Department of Education said there were basic guidelines on the use of mobile devices, but schools came up with their own policies.

"New technologies have the potential to benefit student learning and schools encourage students to use their mobile phones in a way which reflects the core values being taught in schools," he said.

"In all cases of inappropriate mobile phone use, government schools' discipline policies and procedures, including suspension, will be applied."

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