Some schools in the region have banned student mobile phones while others believe phones are important. We spoke to the experts to find out more.
HIGH schools can make their own decisions on banning mobile phones, says NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell.
Some school across the Central West are implementing mobile phone bans during school hours with students required to lock away their devices in specialised pouches.
But not everyone agrees if the ban should be introduced everywhere.
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Mobile phones will be banned across all Victorian public schools in 2020 in an effort to reduce distraction and improve learning outcomes.
Students will be required to switch off their phones and store them securely in lockers from the start of the school day until the final bell. In an emergency, parents or guardians can still contact the students, but via the office rather than directly to a mobile phone.
Victoria Minister for Education James Merlino said it would improve learning and social behaviour.
"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," he said.
When it comes to restricting phone use in secondary schools, the NSW government leaves this decision to school principals.NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell
But while Ms Mitchell "strongly supports" mobile phones being banned in public primary schools, the NSW government will take no action to stop older students accessing their digital devices.
"When it comes to restricting phone use in secondary schools, the NSW government leaves this decision to school principals," she said.
"Mobile device bans are more suitable to some secondary schools' circumstances than others. In NSW, we believe principals, staff and the school community are best placed to make this decision for older students."
Speaking about the primary school students, Ms Mitchell said she believed young people should be protected and given the best opportunity to succeed.
She denied an interview request by Australian Community Media to expand on the comments.
The federal education minster has also supported a phone ban in schools.
Minister Dan Tehan said prohibiting phones at school could reduce cyber bullying, as well as anxiety and depression among young people.
"What we're seeing is clear feedback that these bans work. I think it is so important that we need to see leadership from government. I would like to see other states and territories follow Victoria's lead on this," Mr Tehan said.
Schools locking away distractions with new mobile phone policy
THE use of mobile phones within schools has come under the spotlight in the Central West.
Two schools in Dubbo will bring in new rules in term four making students lock away their phones. Both Dubbo College South Campus and Dubbo College Delroy Campus will implement the new policy.
But other schools across the region will not be following suit.
Scots All Saints' College in Bathurst is happy for the students to keep their phones.
"It's important for students to have access to mobile phones," head of college John Weeks said.
"However, generally speaking, throughout school hours, mobiles are not required and are not to be used without specific permission."
At the two Dubbo campuses, students are required to switch off their phones and place them into specialised pouches.
The student keeps the pouch and at the end of the school day it's unlocked through the use of a magnetic device mounted on the outside of the school gates.
The students are positive about the implementation of the pouches.
Dubbo College South Campus students Eva Laird and Ava Lang said the college's decision to implement a phone ban means the students would actually have to socialise and interact with one another.
"I think it's a good thing," Eva said.
"It means we will actually have to interact and socialise with each other.
"We will also be able to focus on studying without the distractions of having a phone and constantly worrying about social media like Instagram and Facebook."
The students agree the lack of phones and social media usage within schools will also help to significantly reduce bullying and strengthen the relationships between their peers.
"I definitely think the phone ban will help with cyberbullying because there's definitely a lot of videos and things like that being taken in schools and posted on social media that shouldn't be," Ava said.
Dubbo College South Campus principal Linda McLeod said she believes banning phones would also strengthen students' confidence. She said they would likely feel more relaxed without having to worry about constant texts and notifications from social media.
Delroy Campus Principal Debbie Head said decision was undertaken after consultation with staff, students and P&C at each campus.
"This will be a positive change to the educational environment and it is the revolution in education we have to have" she said.
"Research shows mobile phones in the classroom lead to student distraction and takes their attention away from the task at hand."
The NSW government last year accepted child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg's recommendation that smartphones be banned in state primary schools, but let high schools choose their own policy.
Department working on digital device policy
A DEPARTMENT of Education spokesman said they are working on a new digital device policy both primary and secondary schools.
It comes after the NSW government announced a ban on mobile phones in primary schools last year.
"Following the announcement, the Department of Education has been working on the effective implementation of the proposal. This includes the development of a new policy that will govern the use of all digital devices and online services in both public primary and high schools," the spokesman said.
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"The primary school restriction is currently being explored by schools participating in a voluntary pilot program."
However, there are exemptions to the ban.
The spokesman said students who require access to a device because of a disability or other health issue will be exempt.
The primary school restriction is currently being explored by schools participating in a voluntary pilot program.Department of Education spokesman
"Identifying and responding to the personalised learning and support needs of all students, especially those with disability and additional learning and support needs, is an ongoing school process of collaborative planning and consultation with the student and their parents or carers," they said.
The Department of Education has also worked with schools to provide an update of their Digital Citizenship site, which is designed to help them understand and develop the attitude, skills, behaviours and knowledge students need to actively participate in a digital society.
'Technology detox' important: principals' council
ACTING president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council Craig Peterson is encouraging schools and their communities to work together to establish boundaries for the use of mobile phones in classrooms and the playground but also "at home".
Mr Petersen said the council was listening to psychologists like Dr Michael Carr-Gregg who led a review into the use of mobile devices in schools at the request of the state government.
"His advice is don't have technology in the kids' bedrooms," Mr Petersen said.
"If you have a computer they access for homework, have that in a family space so parents can monitor what their children are doing.
"And don't let them take their phones to bed at night.
"Phones should be on the kitchen bench charging overnight so they aren't tempted to be engaging in social media at 12 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock."
Mr Petersen said the NSW Secondary Principals' Council did not support a blanket ban on mobile phones in schools.
We do support schools doing what they need to do in their own context.Acting president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council Craig Peterson
"We do support schools doing what they need to do in their own context," he said.
"Mobile technology has become so ubiquitous ... and implementing a blanket ban needs to be done carefully because what you don't want is to create situations where kids are getting into trouble because effectively they've got an addiction to the device."
The president said studies showed mobile phone use could become addictive and advocated for "technological detox opportunities" which allowed time for personal interaction.
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