A student’s view of mobile phone bans

Jul 7, 2019 by

Ann Maria Sabu –

I walk into my school and hear students discussing the latest ‘trending news’ among Victorian students: the ban on usage of mobile phone during school hours in primary and secondary public schools in Victoria. As an average teenager it is interesting to imagine what schools will look like if students are not allowed to use smartphones during school hours.

Unlike many of my peers, I did not need to put in much effort to imagine what such a ban would feel like. I have already experienced similar, and in fact more rigid, rules when I studied in Dubai and in India. In these places students are prohibited from even bringing mobile phones to school, let alone using them during school hours.

But does this mean that students in these places lack some form of entertainment or skills in managing the time they spend on their phones? I don’t think so. I used to witness more interaction among students and more studious class environments in India and Dubai than what I do now in a private Victorian secondary college.

Moving from a situation overseas where I was not able to use a mobile phone at all on school premises, to being granted the ‘dream’ in Australia of being able to bring a phone to school, has changed my mindset a lot. I moved away from being a person who could easily initiate a conversation with a stranger to a person trapped in the ‘bubble’ of my own world.

Most of my friends in my current school are busy snapchatting the experiments we do in science labs and chatting with ‘long lost’ friends they met at a party yesterday rather than being captivated by the experiments or talking to friends who are sitting right beside them.

Sure, I don’t blame anyone for being distracted by frequent Facebook notifications or tempted to reply to messages as soon as possible, to maintain netiquette. But isn’t it far better to enjoy the present moment and get the best out of these few high school years?

To me the ban is necessary, to reduce cyberbullying, to help average students like myself to focus on our education, and to help us learn to engage with people around us. It will reduce the need to get the latest smartphone in order to keep up with the smartphone one’s bestie is using, thus reducing stress due to peer pressure and discrimination based on financial status.

“Reducing time spent on social media, especially during childhood and teenage years, is important to help us mould ourselves and our perspectives before entering a more vivid world.”

The ban on mobile phones during school hours will also lead to a huge fall in the frequency of times a teacher needs to ask a student to put their phone away. It will contribute to a positive behavioural change within the student community.

Some will argue that the ban might provoke students to sneak phones into school without teachers noticing them. This might be true, but nevertheless it will still aid in reducing time spent on mobile phones during school hours.

Others might argue that students will turn to laptops and tablets to compensate for the ban on phones. However, the school’s wifi will usually have blocked domains preventing students from using social media on tablets and laptops.

Still others advocate the necessity to respect the individuality and freedom of students, particularly high school students. But from my point of view, banning usage of smartphones during class hours does not interfere with our freedom as we definitely have an opportunity to make use of them outside of school according to our wishes.

Besides, surely social media actually deteriorates the formation of one’s individuality. Online echo chambers and social pressure to hold certain opinions can discourage individual thought, and instead encourage you to follow the pack.

Reducing time spent on social media, especially during childhood and teenage years, is therefore important to help us mould ourselves and our perspectives before entering a more vivid world. In that sense, the ban on mobile phones in Victorian classrooms can only be a good thing.

Ann Maria Sabu is a student at a private secondary college in Victoria.

Source: A student’s view of mobile phone bans

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