Some Australian state school students will face restrictions on using their mobile phones at school. Image by (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

Education

School mobile phone bans come into force

2020-01-27 17:10:21

A ban on using mobile phones during school hours will start for all public school students in Victoria and WA

The states have brought in the bans – which kick off when children return to the classroom for the year – in an effort to prevent distraction and curb cyberbullying.

Tasmanian students in primary and secondary schools will face a ban from the second term.

Victoria last June was the first state to commit to a ban for all its state school students, with WA and Tasmania following suit later in the year.

NSW has committed to a primary school ban, which flows from a new policy starting this week, after piloting the measure at 22 schools in 2019.

The policy is to provide advice to high schools on students using digital devices, but ultimately leaves it to them to decide whether a ban is necessary.

There will be restrictions in NSW primary schools, but they are being given a one-year grace period to hash out the details.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has been encouraging states to sign up to a ban through the Council of Australian Governments.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews believes his state is ready for the measure, even if it is not universally popular.

“We want our kids focused on learning, not on snapchatting and texting and whatever else you might do on a mobile device,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

“This is a pretty simple thing. It’s something parents have called for, many teachers have called for.”

All of the bans announced so far include potential exemptions for educational purposes or students with medical conditions.

As the bans loom, a company that makes smart devices is urging state governments not to bar all mobile devices in schools, stressing some have a ‘school mode’ which ensures they do not distract students.

Spacetalk – which includes the mode in their smartwatches – has released a survey of 1000 parents of primary school aged students showing 72 per cent believe their children should be able to wear smartwatches.

Kylie Crawford from the NSW northern beaches says her eight-year-old daughter Sumaya wears the watch in ‘school mode’ all day, meaning it works like any other watch.

But when 3pm hits she can read messages, including ones from her parents indicating whether there has been a change to who will pick her up that afternoon.

Ms Crawford says she hopes schools do not crack down on these devices in classrooms.

“A ban on them bringing them to school would not be beneficial to families,” she said.