Banning mobile phones in Victorian schools from 2020 is another step in tackling the complex issue of cyber bullying and cyber safety, national children’s charity, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, says.
Acting Foundation CEO Linda Barry says the charity, whose mission is to keep children safe from bullying, supports the Victorian Government’s efforts to combat cyber bullying in Victorian public schools.
“With one in five students suffering from cyber bullying, the Foundation supports all initiatives to improve the wellbeing of Victorian children and young people,” Mrs Barry said.
“Mobile phones are a fact of everyday life. In our view, there is a need for a focus on the ethical and wise use of technology by all students from their very earliest learning.
However, there is also growing concern about young people’s ability to engage with others and entertain themselves offline as well as online. Our young people need to be taught self-regulation in their use of smart phones.”
Children and young people should also be encouraged to analyse and assess information offered, through the development of critical digital and media literacies, Mrs Barry said.
“We submit that technology is not the major cause of bullying – we believe bullying is primarily an issue of attitude, relationships, respect and culture.
“However, we understand that in many settings the disruption and misuse of phones is counterproductive to the learning environment.”
The Foundation works with the Victorian, as well as other state governments and territories, to deliver eSmart Schools and Digital Licence into primary and secondary schools.
These provide schools with a framework to create a safe cyber environment for students and help to develop smart, safe and responsible children and young people who are equipped with knowledge and learned behaviours that help tackle the risks they face.
At present, eSmart Schools is in one-third of all Australian schools. The Victorian Government has funded the framework to make it available to all Victorian government, Catholic and independent schools, free of charge.