Parents, teachers and students divided on school mobile phone bans

Stock image.
Stock image.

POLICIES limiting the use of mobile phones at schools are dividing parents, teachers and students across the metropolitan area as first term kicks off this week.

The issue raised debate on Facebook in reaction to recent Community News coverage of a Glen Forrest college enforcing a complete mobile phone ban during school hours.

Helena College principal Ian Lyons brought the new policy in for the 2018 school year, with Ocean Reef Senior High School and Mindarie Senior College set to follow suit to further limit students’ access to their phones.

Mr Lyons’ policy meant students would be allowed to bring their phones to school but were not allowed to get them out of their locker until they left, even during breaks.

Most parents on Facebook supported the policy, with several people, including Teresa Parkes, commenting that it needed to be “implemented in all schools” and hailing Mr Lyons initiative.

Parent Alison Tilbury, whose daughter attends Ocean Reef, said the school introduced a ‘no phone policy’ this year but wasn’t confident how it would be met by students.

“They have to be turned off when you arrive at school and can’t be used until the end of the school day. I’ll be watching to see if my daughter abides by this or forgets,” she wrote.

Lisa Sloman-palk said her son, who was an Ocean Reef student, was “disgusted by the news”.

Former Ocean Reef student Tia Honner (16) was not happy with the restrictive policies.

“I don’t think it is a good thing; it doesn’t change anything and teachers often ask you to get out phones to research things ourselves when we can’t access any computers so it (having access to our phones) helps us,” she said.

Catherine Steel said not allowing students to access their phones was a “great policy” but hard to enforce.

“KSHS [Kelmscott Senior High School] have the same policy but all of the kids walk around on their phones constantly,” she wrote.

“I hope they find a way to successfully enforce it.”

Mother Tracey Harris shared her experience of having an “argument with a teacher” about the school’s limitation on controlling students’ use of mobile phones in class.

“I had an argument with a teacher when he said my daughter was on her phone in class,” she commented.

“Told him to simply take it off her.

“And that it was his class his rules, and he had my full permission to do so, next week another call same problem so told him to act like an adult and grow some balls and take it off her.

“Still wouldn’t do it. So told him not to call me again about it if he wasn’t going to do anything in class about it.”

Denise O’Neill suggested that by taking away pupils’ access to mobile phones would limit the possibility of bullying.

Belridge Secondary College in Beldon outlines its policy on its website which encourages students not to bring electronic devices such as mobile phones to school unless there was a “special need” but conditions applied.

“The student has sole responsibility for the safe keeping of their electronic device,” it read.

“These may only be used prior to the commencement of the school day, during recess or lunch breaks, or after school.

“The device must be switched off and out of sight at all other times.”

The Department of Education does not enforce an overarching policy around the use of electronic devices including mobiles, instead allowing school principals to create their own as they see fit.

State Services Acting Executive Director Martin Clery said that mobile phones were part of everyday life and principals took a common-sense approach to their use in schools.

“Each public school has its own mobile phone policy that makes expectations clear to students and parents,” he said.

According to the department, “there must be consequences for those caught using phones to harass or bully their peers at school, students also need to learn how to use mobile phones and other online devices in a safe and respectful manner.”

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