GOVERNMENT initiatives to reduce classroom distractions and cyberbullying among some of our most vulnerable community members are always welcome.
Victoria has followed NSW's blanket ban on mobile phones in public primary schools. On the face of it, banning seems to be a strong mandate towards boosting students' education and general well-being.
But because of how much the devices and technology have permeated every part of our lives, a total ban may be counterproductive even if it is intuitive.
Since children are already exposed to mobile phones and social media outside of school, their curiosity and general nature means they would likely try to find ways to overcome the ban.
Rather than ban mobile phones altogether, a more nuanced response to ensure students' interactions with technology are safe and bully-free is needed.
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Most of the focus of the debate has focused on 'smart' devices and access to the plethora of social media platforms on those devices.
But the focus needs to shift to a gradual approach to exposing primary school students to technology in a safe way, including, for example, the use of barebone phones.
Who remembers the Nokia 3310 - which has been updated for modern times - or today's minimalism phones, like The Light Phone?
They have no social media and no 'planned obsolescence' associated with today's smart devices.
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They're needs-based phones that prepare young people for when they are finally ready for the lights and sounds of smart devices.
Perhaps by then, they may prefer the minimal phones over the ones with many distractions.
By slowly exposing them to the various levels of technology, alongside programs to address bullying more broadly, students are better prepared to handle the downsides of smartphones and social media.
This approach should be extended to parents and those who are role models for children. Fortunately for public high schools, the ban is an opt-in approach.
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