Kids face smartphone ban in classrooms
SMARTPHONES could be banned from schools and parents urged to implement bans at home as Education Minister Rob Stokes orders an Australia-first review on their use amid concerns about cyber-bullying and safety.
It is understood the suicide of young Northern Territory girl Dolly Everett has deeply concerned NSW authorities who believe smartphone use has "crept in" and grown largely unchecked among children and teens.
The review, which will be headed by leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, will investigate the "risk versus reward" of mobile phone use once inside the school gate.
No review of this scale and impact has ever been done by any Australian government, which greatly concerned Mr Stokes.
"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.
The review will consider restrictions on social media use based on age, student online safety, the prevalence of cyber-bullying across our schools and restricting phone use at primary schools.
However, education authorities are also conscious of the need to balance any restrictions with the need for students to be contactable by their parents as they travel to and from school.
"Every school I visit has anecdotal examples about the perils or positives surrounding the use of smartphones and other devices in schools," Mr Stokes said.
"Principals are adopting a range of approaches to managing their use, and we want to ensure we provide the best possible advice to help them support their students and parents."
Mr Stokes said concerns around phone use were broad, extending from cyber-bullying to screentime, and it was crucial to examine parameters around their use.
"In the classroom and in the playground, smartphones provide opportunities for students and parents to stay connected, but can also create other problems," Mr Stokes said.
"It is important that we examine parameters around their use in schools to ensure that they are not a distraction from learning."