Will the latest ban on mobile phones in NSW schools be successful?
Research says: possibly not
The introduction of a state-wide mobile phone ban in NSW schools has sparked mixed reactions among educators, parents, and students alike. While some believe that the ban will promote better academic performance and reduce distraction, others argue that it may hinder communication and access to information.
With the ban set to affect millions of students across the state, it’s crucial to explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a policy. In this blog, we will examine the impact of mobile phone bans in schools, drawing insights from schools around the world and discussing the ongoing debate surrounding this contentious issue.
Sweden reports bans are ineffective
In an article produced by the University of Gothenburg, it was reported that a mobile phone ban in Swedish schools, which came into effect on August 1, 2020, has not been effective.
The ban aimed to reduce distractions and improve academic performance, but some teachers and students have reported difficulties enforcing the policy. In addition, some students have found alternative ways to access their phones during class time, such as using smartwatches or earphones.
The article suggests that the ban has only created more problems than it has solved and calls for a more nuanced approach to the issue of mobile phones in schools. This could involve providing students with more engaging and interactive classroom activities or creating designated times and spaces for phone use during breaks and free time.
Is a ban addressing the real issue?
Research suggests that the impact of smartphones on children’s mental health and well-being is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, the percentage of youths suffering from mental health problems reached an all-time high of 20 to 25% in 2017.
Professor Jean Twenge in the US found that there was a 33% increase in the number of American teenagers feeling joyless or useless between 2010 and 2015, and a 50% increase in depressive symptoms among teens.
An Alberta Teachers Association survey also showed that 85 to 90% of teachers think the number of children with emotional, social, and behavioural problems in their schools has increased in the past five years.
In Australia, Melbourne Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg stated that one in seven primary and one in four secondary students suffer from mental health issues. While it is uncertain whether smartphones are the primary cause of these problems, they may well be contributing to them.
Rather than simply banning smartphones in schools, which might not be the most effective solution, teaching children safe, responsible, and healthy use of their devices could be a better approach. Many schools in Finland and Australia already provide such education.
Carr-Gregg suggests parents and teachers, need to help children learn how to control their own behaviours and live healthier lives by understanding the benefits and risks associated with having a smartphone all the time. By doing so, we may be able to address the real issues that affect children’s mental health and wellbeing in the digital age.
Successful in NSW already?
The Blue Mountains Gazette published an article, it highlights the positive outcomes of a mobile phone ban at Springwood High School in New South Wales, Australia. The school implemented the ban in 2019, prohibiting students from using their phones during school hours.
The ban resulted in increased focus, engagement, and academic achievement among students. Teachers reported improved class participation and fewer distractions, and students reported feeling less anxious and more connected to their peers.
The ban also led to more face-to-face communication and increased physical activity during breaks. Overall, the ban has been well-received by the school community and has had a significant positive impact on students’ well-being and academic success.
The results are in from the UK
According to a study by the London School of Economics conducted in 2015, banning mobile phones in schools led to significant improvements in test scores.
The study, which analysed schools in four English cities, found that schools with phone bans saw an increase in test scores of over 6%.
Interestingly, the researchers found that low-achieving and low-income students showed the most improvement. This suggests that mobile phone bans may be an effective strategy for closing the achievement gap in education. These findings highlight the importance of schools adopting policies that limit the use of mobile phones during school hours.
In conclusion, the debate over mobile phone bans in schools continues to be a contentious issue. While some studies have found positive impacts on student well-being and academic success, others suggest that such policies may not be effective in reducing distraction or improving academic performance.
To address the impact of smartphones on children’s mental health and well-being, schools should provide education on safe and healthy use of devices. A nuanced approach balancing the benefits and risks associated with mobile phone use is crucial.
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