Why the Digital Technology Policy is changing

As technology keeps on advancing, smart devices have almost become essential gadgets in our lives. It is next to impossible to leave home without these phones, because they make communication easy. Students have also found a great use of phones and most of them bring their phones to school. Digital devices are not bad or harmful as some people can think, but the problem is that some students (as we all do) use them for wrong reasons or become addicted to checking them and this makes them a potential distraction in school. Since most devices can now access the internet, students tend to use them for entertaining reasons while in the classroom or playground, this creates distraction and can also potentially affect a students’ grades and social setting.

Research has shown that school and university students are the top users of social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and many more. All these social networks have mobile phone applications which can enable the user of a phone to easily access them, and indeed to coerce them to ‘check in’ whenever they see the icon popping up. This behaviour has forced many educators and parents to ban phone/device usage in schools. Indeed, the discussion around banning phones at schools has dominated the education headlines around the world. However, banning seems to be a knee jerk reaction to an issue and this will not resolve or address the issues of phones or devices in the classroom, or to teaching the wise use of them. An interesting article in the New York times this week outlines the fact that banning smart phones in schools will in no way solve student issues, rather schools and parents need to work on better parameters and teach students about the appropriate use of smart devices. This is very different to just banning them at school and then allowing free reign when students leave school. St Andrew’s feels that it is a requirement that we teach students how to best access and use these smart devices.

I spoke to all students on Monday during Assembly about how I used to procrastinate in my studies and would turn to TV, the fridge, counting the lines on my doona… anything to distract me from study and it wasn’t until second year university that I sorted my procrastination issues. I asked for a show of hands from the students showing who procrastinates, and almost 100% of hands went up. I then asked for some common examples of distractions for students and again close to 100% said social media. This is not the students fault! We (parents and schools) placed smart devices in their hands and did not adequately teach them how to use it and more importantly how to self control their usage. Indeed many students have unrestricted access and no monitoring once they are outside the bounds of school!  

After much research, many surveys and round table discussions Mr Shaun Cleary and Ms Katy Kirby formulated an action plan and policy that it is hoped will help students, staff and parents develop parameters and encourage the appropriate use of digital technology. I encourage you all to read the revised policy here. This has also been directly emailed to parents recently. Please feel free to contact Shaun scleary@saac.qld.edu.au if you have any questions or would like to discuss the policy.

We have also introduced a weekly segment in our bulletin, Digital Wellbeing @ St Andrew's. Keep an eye out for this each week as it will contain handy links and resources for parents. 

Mr Brad Bowen