Many parents and grandparents in our community are able to reflect back to the time before ‘smartphones’ were part of our daily lives; when having a Nokia with the ‘snake’ game was something to ‘wow’ your mates with; when dial-up internet was something that only happened on the home PC – for those who were lucky enough to have the technology; when the set of encyclopedias in the school library was still the best research tool
Oh how times have changed...
Generation Z (4-25 year olds) do not know a life without the internet, without smartphones, without social media platforms, without continuous connection to information. And the pressure appears to be having an impact...
Young people are struggling to maintain focus during lessons due to the worry of ‘missing out’ on the most recent update in their digital social world: Gen Z brains are constantly worrying about messages/information they may have missed, or how they may have become victim to cyber bullying – causing significant ‘distraction’ from the ‘real world’.
There have been various studies over recent years linking a rise in mobile phone and social media use, to the rise in anxiety, insomnia, self-esteem issues and depression, with young people feeling the need to ‘be connected’ 24/7 for ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO).
It is fair to suggest that we have a responsibility to allow our students to ‘have a break’ from the pressures they are feeling by being always ‘connected’.
Following on from schools in the UK that noted ‘improvements in achievement’, a ‘reduction in cyber bullying’ and ‘a reduction in distraction’, MECS has decided to follow suit with the Australian Government’s ruling to ban access to mobile phones during school hours. With a desire (and obligation) to provide a safe learning environment for all students, we are opting to provide measures that will remove distraction and decrease the foreseeable risk of phones being used in an inappropriate way throughout the school day.
A new ‘Mobile Phone Policy – 6.4.3’ has been developed in relation to mobile phone use across the school which takes into consideration the age of our students, ongoing concerns with phone/social media access and the varying needs of our students, whilst also honouring the community and educational purposes of the school environment.
THE POLICY - In summary
All students from Primary through to Year 9 are not allowed to have their mobile phones with them during the day. Provision is made for students to hand in their phones at the beginning of the school day and then collect them at the end of the school day. Student phones will be locked in secure cabinets. In Years 10-12, there are certain circumstances where phones are allowed but in the main, all such devices should not detract from the main educational focus of the school.
THE POLICY – In practice
From the beginning of 2020, mobile phones in the Primary School will be stored in a locked cabinet in a central location throughout the school day.
Student’s phones must be handed in prior to the start of the school day and will be returned at the end of the school day.
From the beginning of 2020, mobile phones in the Middle School will be stored in locked cabinets in each classroom throughout the school day. Student’s phones will be collected during morning devotions classes and returned during the 10-minute dismissal session at the end of each day.
If students breach this expectation by not handing in their mobile phones, and a phone is found to be in the possession of a student, the phone will be confiscated and an after-school detention issued. Further infractions will require parents/guardians coming to the school to pick up the confiscated phone.
Mobile phones are not permitted to be used during class or in the Study Centre without express permission given by a teacher.
Whilst students are allowed to access phones during break times, students are not permitted to use phones for entertainment and will be requested to return phones to their locker or hand into administration.
If students regularly breach this expectation by using their mobile phones inappropriately during break times, the phone will be confiscated and an after-school detention issued. Further infractions will require parents/guardians coming to the school to pick up the confiscated phone.
We realise that ‘locking the phones away’ isn’t the final solution...
Further to the practical restrictions to mobile phone use, the school continues to strive towards creating ‘positive digital citizens’ through timely teaching of students’ responsibilities as digital technology users, including teaching around cyber-bullying, e-safety practices, Christian values as they relate to being a member of the school and wider community, and what it means to positively engage with others in the social world. Our desire is to equip our young people to know how to effectively engage with the digital world when their phones are handed back at 3:30pm.