This piece was published in the ‘NT Sun’ on February 13 2018. I would welcome reader feedback on my position. This reflection takes account of my experiences with mobile phones in schools while a school principal.
PHONES AT SCHOOL SHOULD BE A NO GO
The issue of mobile phones and students accessing them while at school has again come to the fore. The issue has become more critical because of self harm and suicides apparently motivated by the receipt of macabre messages.
Cruel messages and heartless pictures have a deleterious impact on the well-being of many students. From anecdotal evidence it seems that the impact of these messages on younger students is particularly pronounced.
We hear of students misusing their telephones during the school day to send such messages. They are also being used to “steal” photographs of others which can then be shared online. There are also stories of older students (in both primary and secondary schools) using their mobile phones during recess and lunch periods to share pornography between themselves and with younger students.
That this sort of thing is happening in schools is mind-boggling! The suggestion that it’s okay for students at school during the school day to access mobile phones when ever they want, is beyond all common sense.
We are also learning that very young students have their own devices which they are able to freely use, seemingly, whenever they wish
The latest scenario is that federal and state politicians suggesting that students should not be able to use mobile phones at school during the school day. This should not even be a point of debate. Students should not have phones and free access to the use at school during the school day. That used to be the way it was. If there has been a relaxation of the “no phone“ rule, it needs to be immediately reinstated.
Children and students bringing phones to school should be required to hand them to the front office or to a teacher for minding until home time. It would be better in the altogether for parents to resist pressures from children to supply them with “phones without operating rules”.
There are mobile phone options available which can be programmed to limit incoming and outgoing calls to pre-set numbers. The use of a limited device should be sufficient to enable necessary contact between parents and their children.
While some schools require students to bring their own devices to assist in study programs, these are usually laptops and iPads, which lend themselves to better control and monitoring. To continue unfettered phone use at school will continue the bullying and harassment trends which should not be a part of school culture.