Who would have thought that limiting student mobile phone use would be so well received…by students!

We are now into our journey of limiting student access to mobile phones during the school day and the positive impact has been overwhelming. Many parents have been supportive and grateful of this new initiative. What has been even more pleasing, has been the overwhelmingly positive response from many of our students who have claimed that they are learning more, have experienced increased productivity in class and are not feeling the pressures associated with real-time social media during the school day.

When phones began to be common place amongst students, many schools outlawed them as is often the case with new technologies that are unfamiliar in the learning context. Over time, however, many schools began to allow them either in a restricted or unrestricted capacity as many researchers began to discover that phones allowed opportunities for learning advancement due to ready access of digital information.

A decade or so later and we are now at a time when much of the educational research now suggests that the benefits of mobile phone use in the classroom are far outweighed by the negatives. A comprehensive research project was undertaken by the London School of Economics and the findings presented in the paper Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance (Beland & Murphy, 2015). It has been found that limiting mobile phone use in the classroom can have the net effect of an extra six full days of learning per year for some students and increased test performance of up to 14%.

In 2016, Christian Outreach College Toowoomba began to implement a program we call MyLearn. This includes each student from Year 6 to Year 12 using a laptop that is connected to our network. This has made the use of phones for web browsing and note-taking redundant and it means that all internet access is filtered through our secure network. The result is that our students have 21st century learning opportunities without the unique distractions that mobile phones can bring.

The other, perhaps more important side effect of phones at school, is that most students struggle to deal with the pressures of the immediacy of instant messaging, social media and privacy associated with mobile phone use. Most of our children are still at a psychologically developmental age where they have difficulty processing many of the perceived demands that social media platforms place on them. The school day is not a time where they need to be dealing with such pressures and distractions. Being intentional about restricting the use of phones at school alleviates that pressure during the school day and frees students to concentrate on learning and face to face social interactions.

At COCT we value our students and we want to see them flourish in all aspects of life. We believe that restricting mobile phone use during the school day affords them this opportunity and it seems to be working!

Mr Michael Bray – Principal