Parents support a cellphone ban at a Northland high school, with one saying the phones are being used to organise and film fights to post on social media.
Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa has announced a full mobile phone ban will start on May 3.
Phones are not contributing to students’ education and can hinder it, principal Edith Painting-Davis said in a statement posted to Facebook.
“Between the distraction in class and antisocial elements, including fighting, cyberbullying, theft and increased negative interactions, mobile phones are causing too many problems,” she said.
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“We see no benefit at all in allowing mobile phones in the school.”
The ban has been welcomed by parents of the students spoken to by Stuff.
One mother, Erika Kihau, said the ban should have happened a long time ago.
“Fights are caused by phones – they [the students] are getting into fights so they can record them.”
The fight scenes are then posted onto social media, Kihau said.
“I won’t allow my son to have a phone. Kids shouldn’t have them, full stop, they’re too young.”
Mother Karen Hereora also supports the cellphone ban, saying phones are distracting students in class.
“They don’t really do any learning if they’re Googling it … How do you get your child to engage if life becomes the cellphone?”
Hereora said mobile phones are also expensive, with students wanting the latest devices.
While parents can use the school office to contact their children in an emergency, Horeora’s only worry is how to contact her daughter after school.
Painting-Davis said students can turn in their phones to the school office at the start of the day, and pick them up when they leave.
During the day, all students have a Chromebook which is connected to the school server, allowing inappropriate sites to be blocked, she said.
“By removing mobile phones we hope to dial down the distractions and hugely reduce the amount of ‘ugly’ behaviour that we were having to deal with on a daily basis.”
But not all students are choosing to use their cellphones.
Father Adam Stepanicic said his son has already decided not to bring his phone to school, in part because not all students can afford them.
Student Bailee Nankivell, 13, said she did not use her phone during class time or lunchtime, but felt it was good to have it after school.
Across the country, some other high schools are introducing cellphone bans.
At Christchurch’s Hillmorton High School, students are now more engaged and are turning to board games and books for entertainment.
Despite the positive impact a school mobile phone ban can have, the Ministry of Education is leaving it up to schools to decide their own policy, sector enablement and support spokeswoman Katrina Casey said.
“School boards make rules on a wide range of matters, including cellphones in school. We expect schools to communicate clearly with parents what their school policies are and to consult with their school communities when they update or change them.”
The ministry provides a guide for principals and teachers on how digital technology can be used safely in schools.