Move to ban smartphones in schools could impact on Dubbo school pupils

A movement to ban students from smartphone use during school hours could impact on Dubbo school pupils.

A spokesman for the NSW education department said there are times when it is appropriate and beneficial for students to have access to a mobile phone.

A spokesman for the NSW education department said there are times when it is appropriate and beneficial for students to have access to a mobile phone.

School students in Dubbo may find themselves using older phones such as blackberries and fliphones as a form of communication over the upcoming year as the federal government launches a new study on smartphone use in school.

A smartphone is a mobile phone with a touchscreen, and the ability to access the internet and social media. There is also a camera built in most smartphones.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has spoken out publicly in favour of banning smartphones in the classroom.

While at school, he suggests that devices should be kept powered off and inside students’ lockers.

But a spokesman for the NSW education department said there are times when it is appropriate and beneficial for students to have access to a mobile phone.

“Students may, for example, need to contact parents in an emergency or to confirm or change a collection time after school,” he said.

“New technologies have the potential to benefit student learning and schools encourage students to use their mobile phones in a way which reflects the core values being taught in schools. The values of respect, responsibility, care and fairness.

“Individual public schools, like those in Dubbo, develop their own policies for devices such as mobile phones and tablets in consultation with their school community, taking into account aspects such as digital citizenship, 21st Century learning, students’ communication needs and privacy.”

The spokesman said public school networks do not allow students to connect their devices to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat during school hours.

“At all schools, inappropriate use of mobile phones and other devices will be subject to disciplinary procedures,” he said.

Mr Birmingham believes that there are very few reasons that smartphones should be allowed in classrooms. 

"Smartphones are not just a potential platform for bullying; they are a distraction as well," he said.

NSW Secondary Principals Association president Chris Presland said a ban would be difficult if not impossible to institute in a school setting. 

"What we need to be focusing on is educating students and parents about the appropriate use of technology in schools," he said.

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