Phone bans for students at public schools in South Australia and the Northern Territory will start to come into effect this week. Here’s what you need to know.
Students at public primary and high schools in SA will need to keep their mobile phones and other personal devices, such as a smartwatch, turned off during the school day. The policy starts to come into effect this week and will be mandatory for all public schools by the start of term three. Similar rules will come into place in the NT on Tuesday. This ban will require students to ensure phones can’t be accessed during the day and that smartwatches are switched to flight mode.
Mobile phone use during school hours has already been banned at public schools in Victoria, Tasmania, and Western Australia. The NSW Government has banned the use of digital devices at primary schools during school hours (unless teacher approved), but has allowed high school principals to make their own decisions about students’ phone use.
Why’s It Happening?
The SA Government said its updated policy would reduce the incidence of cyberbullying or exposure to harmful digital content, and also allow school breaks to become “quality time away from screens”. In making its decision, the NT Government referenced previous studies and media articles that found phone bans removed a distraction and increased student achievement.
Australian schools have also been grappling with the rise of artificial intelligence programs which have elevated concerns about cheating in assessment tasks. ChatGPT, an AI program that has exploded in popularity in recent months, has already been banned on public school networks in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, and WA. The SA Government, however, has allowed AI programs to be used in schools for non-assessable tasks, with Education Minister Blair Boyer saying a total ban would risk “burying our heads in the sand” amid the rise in new technologies.