For some, the mobile phone ban in schools is a step towards battling digital dependency, while others find the notion as triggering as receiving a message you can’t open. We examine both sides of the mobile phone ban debate.
The ban’s introduction follows a spate of violent attacks on and fights between students in the state’s high schools, which were filmed by other students and shared on social media.
Many are supporting the ban
A 2015 UK study found that banning mobile phones can improve student performance. The study has been used as support for the ban here and interstate.
Some local public high schools that have implemented the ban early have reported immediate, positive outcomes, with some schools saying they’ve noticed less disruptions in class and more engagement between students at break times.
The potential implementation of the policy in South Australia has been in the news since June 2022, with initial responses skewing toward its rejection, but The Post has spoken to a number of teachers and parents around Adelaide and found many are in support of the ban.
Alexandra, a teacher from a school in Adelaide’s west, said banning phones in the classroom would help teachers and students remain focused.
“Phones are a huge distraction,” she said. “I’m always having to interrupt class and tell kids off. They can be stressful for teachers. My classroom is a safe space and removing phones in the classroom means I can keep it that way.
“There will be less chance of cyberbullying while the kids are under my watch. Cheating can also be an issue.
“It’ll also help with the issues that arise for kids who don’t have phones and end up being ostracised and left out at school because of it.”
Amanda teaches at a school in Adelaide’s north-east and says that while the ban is a positive for learning, there needs to be some flexibility.
“I agree with the ban during class time as mobiles are too much of a distraction during learning time. But I think it’s important they have them before and after school for safety reasons.”
The policy does allow students to continue bringing devices to school, for safety while travelling and to have contact with their families, employers and other commitments before and after school hours. While they’re at school, the devices need to be kept off and away.
Meanwhile, there is support from parents of high school students. Kelly Young, whose daughter is in year 9, said she supported the ban. She expected some students might rebel and “there might be some bad behaviour to begin with, but they’ll get used to it [no phones] and it’ll become the norm”.
She said that parents needed to take more responsibility in giving their children mobile phones as “you can’t close the gate once the horse has bolted”.
Given the mobile phone ban is in its early stages, it’s too soon to expect to see comprehensive evidence that supports it will result in better performance in schools. However, we anticipate more information will come to light toward the end of 2023.
Others are not so sure
Some teachers and experts have also spoken out against the ban arguing that the policy does not address the issue of distraction in class.
They have also countered that cyberbullying is not limited to school hours so while the policy has merit it is limited in its application.
Some other things to consider
An Australian study found that for students who experienced bullying, seven-in-ten experienced traditional bullying, and nearly three-in-ten experienced both traditional and cyberbullying. The uploading to social media of fights and attacks on students can be a means to further intimidate victims, as well as delivering the perpetrators attention and fame.
With bullying a serious problem – at 45 million school-related incidences every year in Australia – banning mobile phones is one key tool to reduce its prevalence, along with other interventions.