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Albion Park High School

Albion Park High School

Respect, Responsibility & Commitment

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Use of personal electronic devices

This policy promotes the learning, safety and wellbeing of students and the management of any risk of harm and distraction from the use of digital technology accessed via a mobile phone, smart watch or other personal electronic device. This policy outlines the agreed upon procedures in managing students’ use of these devices at Albion Park High School.
For the purposes of this policy, ‘mobile phones and other personal electronic devices’ includes smart watches and all other electronic devices (including iPods and other branded tablets), as well as their associated listening accessories – such as, but not limited to, headphones, ear pods and ear buds.
In NSW Public Schools, Secondary school principals, in consultation with their communities, have discretion to make decisions about restricting or permitting student use of digital devices and online services in all school-related settings, including at recess, lunch and during class. We recognise that digital devices and online services are an important part of everyday life, shaping the way children and young people learn, communicate, work and play. Learning environments, at school and at home, should support students to develop technological, social and emotional competencies. This support should maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of digital environments, and prepare students for life beyond school.

The aim of this policy is to provide:
• a safe environment to learn without inappropriate mobile phone use (including cyberbullying) or distractions
• greater opportunities for social interaction and physical activity during recess and lunchtimes.


While mobile phones and other such devices have significant advantages for use in the broader community their use in schools is highly problematic. In schools, mobile phones are significant distractors to learning and contribute to a student’s cognitive load. They can also pose a significant risk to the safety and wellbeing of students through unfiltered/ unsupervised access to the internet and social networking platforms.
The use of technology is important, but the risks and benefits from its use need to be managed. A summary of research used to inform this policy is available below.

Research - Mobile phone use in the classroom

How smart is it to allow students to use mobile phones at school? reports on a study of mobile phone bans in England. The bans led to:
• Improvements in student achievement
• An increase in test scores for students aged 16 by an amount equal to adding five extra days to the school year.

Lower-achieving students made the greatest improvements.
Mobile phones in the classroom: A helpful or harmful hindrance? outlines recent research. Phones can be a distraction and their removal from the classroom can see an improvement in student performance. Students who did not use smartphones in a lecture wrote 62 per cent more information in their notes and recalled more information than peers who were using their phones.
'Schools need to react quickly': Education expert urges smartphone ban discusses smartphone use in schools. According to Finnish expert Dr Sahlberg, smartphone distraction is one of the main reasons why Australia is sliding down Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.

Research - Cognition and smartphone use
Smartphones and Cognition: A Review of Research Exploring the Links between Mobile Technology Habits and Cognitive Functioning is a review of academic research on mobile phones. The review looked for evidence of effects of smartphone use on cognition. It reported that habitual smartphone use may have a negative and lasting impact on users’ ability to:
• think,
• remember
• pay attention

• regulate emotion.
The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone Reduces Brain Power, Study Shows The research finds it doesn’t matter whether a smartphone is on or off or lying face up or face down on a desk - having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks, because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.

Research - Smartphones use by children and young people and wellbeing
Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time shows that, on average, teenagers are spending six hours per day:
• using the internet
• texting friends
• using social media.

The surveys explore the links between the use of smartphones, particularity social media, and increases in depression, anxiety and reduced happiness.

Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time, a Harvard University blog discusses our desire to connect and seek validation through technologies and how this can lead to anxiety, poor sleep and

unsuccessful social interactions. The blog explains how mobile phone content can influence our ‘dopamine pathways’ and lead to a battle for more and more of the users’ time.
The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary-drama hybrid that examines the various ways social media and social networking companies have manipulated human psychology to rewire the human brain and what it means for society in general. One of the most striking sections of the documentary is the one that touches on the vulnerability of teenagers who use platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and multiple others every single day and have been moulded by social media's influences. This section of the film is highlighted by statistics on depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates of teenagers that correlate with the rise of social media.

As always there is a contrary view so please also check out this short ABC RN evaluation

Student Expectations
Students may not use mobile phones and other personal electronic devices while on school grounds at any time. ‘school grounds’ extends to school excursions, sports carnivals and other events at the school or off site where an approved school activity takes place, unless otherwise advised.
• Mobile phones are to be ‘off and away all day’, from the time students enter school grounds in the morning until they are in the designated bus line area, or have left school grounds at 2:35pm. This includes before school and at break times.
• Students must switch their smart watch to ‘aeroplane mode’ for the duration of the school day.
BYO or school issued laptops are NOT part of the ban. However, these devices are not to be accessed before school or during break time in the playground. Students who wish to use laptops at these times must do so in the library or a classroom under the supervision of a teacher. Teachers may also request or allow students to use listening accessories with their laptops as required for learning activities.
• Student will hand their mobile phone or electronic device immediately to a teacher or member of staff if instructed to. Failure to do so will incur more severe consequences, including suspension.
• Students must take full responsibility for any mobile phone or similar device brought to school. The school or staff will not be responsible for their loss, theft or damage. Students who bring them to school, do so at their own risk.

A small number of exceptions will be made. These exceptions will only be available for:
• managing a health condition
Health related exemptions can be sought by parents/carers by contacting the Principal.
In the case of exemption for mental health issues such as anxiety, a letter from a medical professional stating when and how the mobile phone is to be used will be required.
Students with insulin monitors linked to their phone are able to carry their phone in their pocket and may check their phone as required to respond to alerts or alarms. The school must be informed by families of students to whom this applies.

• a teacher directed / supervised learning activity
Teachers can grant a classroom-based learning exception for specific purposes for a specific time. For example: when creating digital film or photos for use in an assignment or class activity. Teachers giving such permission will give students notice as required and will supervise student use of the device for this purpose.

• purchasing at the canteen
Students will be able to use their mobile phones to pay for food/drink at the canteen. Students can only get out, and use their devices once they are at the counter. Devices must be put away immediately once they are used to pay.

Parent or Caregiver expectations
• Contact the school’s Front Office to pass on messages to their child during the school day rather than contacting them directly on their device (for acceptable reasons only, students will be permitted to use a phone in the Front Office to contact their parents)
• Understand that the school takes no responsibility for loss or damage to phones or personal electronic devices.
• Work collaboratively with the school and help reinforce Albion Park High School’s Use of Personal Electronic Devices Policy with their child/ren
• In emergencies, parents will need to contact their children through the school office.

Improper use of mobile phones or other personal electronic devices
Students will have their device (includes laptops) immediately confiscated; further disciplinary action will follow if:

• They are caught using their device in class (excludes laptops) or in the playground without permission as per our expectations.
• The device has recordings of fights between minors or other illegal activities
• Material that falls within the meaning of sexting is found on the device.

• The device is used to bully, intimidate or otherwise harass other people through any voice call, text message, photographic, video or other data transfer system available on the device.
• Students have pornographic material on their phones while on school grounds or at school events.
• Students use digital devices to disrupt the learning environment or interfere with the operation of the school.

• Students use devices to record images, video or sound without permission

• A detention or other appropriate disciplinary measure as determined by the school’s disciplinary policy.
• Confiscation of the device until such time as their parent or caregiver is able to attend school to collect the device. There is to be no argument when requested to hand in the device to a staff member. Such behaviour may incur disciplinary action including suspension.
• Withdrawing the student’s privilege of bringing a phone to school.
• Suspension in cases of repeated breach of policy

It is appropriate to confiscate devices from students when:

• Student’s have failed to meet the school’s expectations relating to appropriate use of mobile phones or other personal electronic devices
• It is necessary to examine the device as there are reasonable grounds to suspect inappropriate material may be on the device. Senior Executive will be involved in such incidents.
• In cases where students have bullied, threatened or harassed other students or staff via a device or where the device has been used to film, take photographs or display inappropriate material.

1. Student is caught with phone/device out of their bag they are required to give the phone/device to a staff member who will place the device in an envelope clearly marked with the student’s details and it will be securely stored in a staff safe. In these instances, the phone will be returned to the student at 2:35pm the end of the day. (Teacher records incident on Sentral – mobile phone breach)
2. Students who fail to cooperate with above process will be referred immediately to HT. HT will confiscate phone and place in safe in their staffroom until the end of the day. Student may be placed on stage 2 and Lunch Detention Issued. (mobile phone breach recorded on Sentral- refer to HT – HT adds additional actions)
3. Students who fail to follow HT instructions are referred immediately to DP. DP confiscates phone. Parent is required to collect phone from School. (HT Refers to DP – DP adds additional actions) Ongoing failure to follow instructions becomes defiance issue and is dealt with by DP.
4. Students with multiple mobile phone breaches or device misuse entries will be addressed through Wellbeing Teams during fortnightly meetings. Stage placements, afterschool detention and possible suspensions may be considered depending on circumstance.

• This policy will be reviewed as part of the school’s three-year review cycle.

This policy was last ratified by School P&C in.... October 2020