A response to parent’s concerns regarding the use of smartphones in schools has lead to the state government’s proposal to establish a review on the issue.
The NSW government education minister, Rob Stokes ordered a review into the use of technological devices in schools.
A Charles Sturt University senior lecturer in technology and applied studies, Lincoln Gill, argued that students should be allowed to use smartphones within school grounds.
“It’s important for students to be taught how they can be used ethically and appropriately”, Mr Gill said.
“They are a tool that many of our young people have and they have a whole range of potential uses, from capturing images of processes they’re performing and putting these sources of evidence into their portfolio of work, to calculating functions in workshop classes.”
While Mr Gill argued positively to using smartphones during school hours, he said there are many risks that need to be factored in, if schools allowed their use.
“I think there needs to be clear guidelines and requirements around the use of smartphones,” he said.
“Schools and homes are places where young people should be taught appropriate use and ensuring that we don’t allow, condone or accept practices such as bullying or cyberbullying and invading people’s privacy.”
Like many aspects of changing and implementing strategies in schools and through education, Mr Gill understood the time it takes to “build a culture and gaining commitment” to any particular stance.
“To chance values, attitudes and ideas and I think it starts with having a good think about potential issues and benefits,” he said.
“To make it clear of what’s acceptable and useful and what isn’t and engaging in dialogue with students and parents about the issues as well as the staff all working together hopefully in the right direction.”
Mr Stokes said smartphones can provide opportunities for students and parents to stay connected, but can also create problems.
“It is important that we examine parameters around their use in schools to ensure that they are not a distraction from learning,” Mr Stokes said.
“From screen time, to cyberbullying and social media, smartphones have generated concerns for parents, teachers and students.
“Principals are adopting a range of approaches to managing their use, and we want to ensure we provide the best possible advice to help them support their students and parents.”
Specialist advice in the fields of child development, cyber bullying, teaching practice and technology will also be sought from local and international experts.