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Australian state bans use of mobile phones in schools

Is it a good idea to restrict kids from using mobile phones during school hours? Source: Shutterstock

The Victoria government in Australia has implemented a ban on mobile phones in primary and secondary schools across the state from next year, according to a recent report.

Reasons for the ban include reducing cyberbullying and distractions, as well to improving education outcomes, according to education minister James Merlino.

Students can bring their phones to school but they must switch them off and keep them in their lockers during school hours until the final bell.

Merlino said, “This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment.”

The announcement comes after federal education minister Dan Tehan’s urge to state governments to implement bans on mobile phones in schools.

Some schools in Victoria, such as McKinnon Secondary College in Melbourne, have already banned mobile phones, but the new law makes it an official ban across public schools in the state.

According to The Guardian, the principal of McKinnon Secondary College, Pitsa Binnion, said the school had “observed improved social connections, relationships and interactions” at lunchtime and that students were more focused.”

Public reaction to this ban has been mixed. Some are calling it a bad idea while others are supporting it and believe it is a good thing for students.

Sue Bell, president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Schools, said that the ban could be too prohibitive for older students.

“For young kids yes, they’re not emotionally or socially ready, but for senior students they use them as a tool just like any other adults does.

“It’s a shame to take away the right of individual schools to work out what it is they’re going to do. It will only work if students are involved in coming up with a solution.”

Others say it is not a good idea as mobile phones are increasingly being used in schools as educational aids, and that students should instead be taught how to use their phones in a safe manner.

A mother-of-two said that her kids who are in high school rely on their phones for study schedules and school and exam timetables.

She said, “Pretty much everything is online, which is why they have their phones and data at school,” she said.

Yet others are fully in support of the ban, claiming that mobile phones are an unnecessary distraction and they have no place in the classroom.

A poll conducted by News.com.au found that 75 percent of people agree phones should be banned at every public school across Australia, based on 618 votes.

Merlino said that the decision to ban phones is also based on common sense as teachers are constantly asking kids to put the phone away, and that they want kids to interact with one another instead of looking at their phones.

In 2017, a school in Perth banned mobile phones and found positive results as well as a reduction in cyberbullying cases.

Principal Jenny Ethell of Perth College said, “Some of the students initially were afraid of missing out on what was happening on social media but because everyone is in the same boat I think that has actually given way to feelings of relief.

“It meant the girls now use break times to develop authentic relationships rather than just communicating through their mobiles.”

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