The ABC reports that the New South Wales government has commissioned a study into the impacts of smartphone use on students from kindergarten to Year 12 and, based on its findings, could draft a policy to limit or even prohibit their use.
“We recognise that young people have access to technology that previous generations could only have dreamed of,” said NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes. “The review will look at everything, but I think the best way to respond to technology is not simply to ban it, [we are] likely to need more nuanced responses.”
Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, who will lead the study, is a child psychologist and acknowledges that smartphone use can be positively implemented by teachers for instant response and video elements to digital lessons. But it’s the use during down times that may really be concerning.
We know that it’s disrupting learning in schools. And we’re particularly interested in the impact of this in primary schools where an astonishing number of young people have access to Snapchat, Instagram and other social media which clearly raises questions about whether it’s age appropriate. I think the main issue is when you’ve got one-in-four kids under the age of 12 being stalked and harassed and abused online — we can’t sit down and do nothing.
A recent suicide brings a poignant point to this study: earlier this year, 14-year-old Amy Jayne Everett of the Northern Territory killed herself after confronting sustained bullying online. Everett, affectionately known by her family as “Dolly,” was the face of Akubra brand hats.
One potential policy New South Wales may suggest is that students should only carry dumbphones that don’t have access to rich internet features and don’t include cameras while on school grounds. Carr-Gregg says that these devices will have “a legitimate role” in allowing kids to talk with their parents.
HealthStats NSW data from last year indicates about 1.9 million children aged 19 or under live in the state.[alert variation=”alert-warning”]Note: If you or someone you know is in crisis, please know that there are resources you can utilize.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached for free at 1.800.273.8255.
In Australia, Lifeline is available for free at 13 11 14.[/alert]