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Smartphones - good servant but poor master for students

Posted on 17 August 2018
Smartphones - good servant but poor master for students

From: The Australian, Australia  by Rebecca Urban - 07 Aug 2018

New research has highlighted young people's dependence on their mobile phones, with more than two-thirds checking them first thing in the morning and before they go to bed at night.

A research report by youth advisory group Year13, published today, has revealed that 93 per cent of young people check their mobile phones as soon as they wake or last thing of an evening, with 69 per cent doing both.

And 67 per cent concede to spending too much time using social media.

The report, After the ATAR II, which is based on surveys this year of almost 5000 people aged 15 to 24, aimed to explore the experiences of youth as they transitioned from school to adulthood.

The findings come amid a broader debate about the impact of digital technology and social media on young people's lives, with a recently announced review by the NSW Department of Education potentially leading to a smartphone ban across the state's public schools.

An earlier survey by the same group found 89 per cent of students were using their phones during class time.

"The majority of young people are literally waking to technology and often conducting their first communication of the day through an online application or digital platform, rather than inperson," the report says.

And although there has been significant attention on the pitfalls for mental health, including issues stemming from sleep loss, cyberbullying and extensive exposure to unrealistic or photoshopped images, the report suggests that it is unclear whether the benefits of social media outweigh the detriments, or vice versa.

"Year13 survey respondents discussed social media in both positive and negative lights, explaining that it could be a hindrance to their concentration as well as an effective stress-reliever, helping them wind down and take their mind off their studies," it says.

Manly mother-of-three Michal Brenchley is concerned about the impact of mobile technology on her children's lives and their phone use is a frequent cause of tension in the household. Her sons' school, St Paul's Catholic College, has a mobile phone policy requiring that phones are turned off, preferably stored in lockers, during school hours. At home, Bailey, 15, and Finlay, 13, are required to put their phones away when they are doing homework.

Both boys were given mobile phones when they started secondary school and catching public transport independently "so they could contact us if need be".

"Now they use it less and less as a phone; it's all about social media," Mrs Brenchley said.

"That's how they communicate - through Instagram. There doesn't seem to be much verbal communication.

"My biggest concern would be the way they think they're lost without their phone. It's their life." NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes announced the smartphone review in June. To be led by child psychologist Michael CarrGregg, it will look at issues such as cyber bullying and optimum screen time. A department spokesman said the terms of reference for the review were being finalised.

It comes as France is preparing to ban the use of mobile phones in schoolyards from next month.


Tags: wellbeing

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