A recent announcement by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, opened the most pressing debate in present day schools; should mobile phone use be encouraged or discouraged in schools? The new policy announced by the Minister bans students from using mobile phones in state primary and secondary schools.
The rule simply states that mobile phones will not be at the student’s disposal on school premises and during emergencies they can be reached at the school. After much consideration, the policy was put into action. There were exceptional cases, where students suffering from medical conditions were allowed to access their mobile phone to monitor health or at the discretion of the teacher. This decision met with general appreciation and a unanimous thumbs up. A survey showed, more than 2,000 Australian adults, nearly 80 per cent were for a ban on mobile phones in classrooms with one third of them wanting mobile phone out of the school premises. The ban enjoyed tremendous support across all ages and groups.
The decision to enforce the ban came as an action against alarmingly increasing rate of cyber bullying incidents in schools, disciplinary issues reported by teachers and low academic performance observed due to “mobile distraction”. The ban has also met with some negative response and with reasons. Research on mobile phone usage and by extension all technology by students, has been abstruse. Where some bring out the flipside of having technology as their bedmate, while others show how this could really be a productive learning tool creating more aware students.
In a decision that mirrored the one taken by the Victorian Minister, New York has seen the effects of its own rule that was enforced in 2006 in all schools. The New York ban was lifted on 2015, nine years after weighing the pros and cons of introducing technology to impressionable yet receptive minds. The pros weighed down the cons. E- learning, m. learning, technology involvement in class, are modern ways of engaging students that will completely be evaded if such rules come into play. Cyber bullying itself as the primary cause for mobile ban can be further investigated. restricting the use of phone as the primary reason to tackle cyber bullying could be unfounded say a few reports.