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20 October 2021

Students make big call on mobile phone use

A Bill to outlaw the use of mobile phones in secondary schools has been…

A Bill to outlaw the use of mobile phones in secondary schools has been defeated in Parliament – Blackfriars Parliament, that is.

Mr Green’s Year 10 Legal Studies class has debated the Mobile Phones in Schools Bill 2021, which calls for the use of phones to be banned across schools in South Australia.

The mock parliamentary sitting followed the boys’ excursion to Parliament House earlier in the week.

Adelaide MP Rachel Sanderson took the boys through the House and explained how the parliamentary process worked.

Mr Green’s Year 10 Legal Studies class at Parliament House with Adelaide MP Rachel Sanderson.

Back at Blackfriars, “Education Minister” Noah Snigg introduced the Bill for debate.

The Bill proposed that:

“The current policies around mobile phone bans only apply to primary schools, which represent only a minor problem in comparison to the challenges these devices pose in secondary education,” Minister Snigg said.

“Research shows that phones are directly impacting students’ performance at school.

“Phones are designed to be highly engaging and even addictive. The apps in the device have been carefully designed to hook our attention for as long as possible.

“This is what makes phones such a threat to maintaining student attention at school.”

He argued that test scores of 16-year-olds increased by 6.4% when mobile phones were removed from schools.

“Opposition MP” Max Cavoli speaking during the BPS Parliament debate on mobile phone use in schools.

However, “Shadow Education Minister” Will Catley said the proposed Bill was “absurd”.

“The unreasonableness comes from schools taking students’ phones for one to two weeks as punishment,” he said, supported by choruses of “hear, hear” from his fellow MPs.

“They (the school) hold on to their expensive property … so the school is now responsible for that mobile phone for 14 days and responsible for what happens to that student in situations where phones are required.”

Opposition MP Max Cavoli labelled the Bill “draconian at best” and “authoritarian”.

Ultimately, the Bill was defeated – perhaps due to the “government” being in minority.

Mr Green said the visit to Parliament House and the BPS Parliament debate helped “consolidate” the boys’ learning of how laws were made.

“The hotly debated topic of mobile phones, and other technology in schools, is something widely debated by academic researchers, teachers, parents and students across Australia,” Mr Green said.

“The boys were able to make judgments on their own mobile phone use and what a potential state-wide ban would mean for them as students.”