Among the seventh to tenth-grade students (ages 12 to 16), Davidson High School’s principal David Rule saw a 90 percent reduction in behavioural issues related to phones in the school, such as bullying, confrontations between kids, and suspensions.
“After almost eight weeks in use, students are being more active in their breaks with plenty of handball and basketball taking place,” Rule stated in the school newsletter.
“In the library, I am witnessing card games, board games, and also groups of students sitting in circles and talking to each other.”
“Classrooms have effectively become phone-free, and this has allowed staff to focus on educating students.”
The trial began at the end of April 2022, when the school gave the students a lock-up phone pouch to have their phones put away during the day.
The students place their phones into the pouch and lock them at the beginning of the day and only unlock them as they leave school.
“I see this as a positive step to have students connect with each other and become more active,” Rule said.
“It is also an opportunity for the school to monitor any changes to social media issues that normally arise on a regular basis each week.”
The Australian Psychological Society found nearly 60 percent of young Australians are heavy social media users, connecting more than five times a day, with nearly a quarter being constantly connected.
Four in ten Australian teens also report having experienced a negative online experience in the last six months, such as receiving threats or abuse online, according to the Australian government’s electronic safety commissioner.
First School to Hit Headlines With Phone Ban
Wauchope Public School became the first school in Australia to trial the lock-up phone technology in 2019, following an independent review that found a rise in cyberbullying, the sharing of explicit images, and a lack of focus in classrooms due to mobile devices.
Rather than banning phones, principal Glen Sawle said that the strategy is about managing screen time when the students are acquiring knowledge and skills.
“By using the pouches, the students are less distracted during the day on their social media and have a much greater focus and attention on the learning that’s taking place in the classroom,” Sawle said.