SPECIAL REPORT DAY 2: Banning phones at school

Should teenagers be prohibited from bringing their phones to school?


There’s a greater onus on us than on teachers to deal with online bullying

“We’ve got to put our hands up here,” says Rita O’Reilly, chief executive of Parentline. “Parents don’t know what’s going on online. Yet the web is this generation’s means of communication. Parents will tell you that if you are transporting a group of teenagers in your car, they won’t even speak to one another for the journey. It’s just tap, tap on the phone all the way. If you see them on a bus, it’s just those yokes on their heads and heads bent looking at phones. I think there’s a big challenge for parents, though, with social media and cyberbullying. We need to start formulating new ground rules. You have to create new rules around new objects. Social media is not going to go away. It’s a positive thing, but think about it: do they really need phones in school? This is something for parents, teenagers, and teachers to work out, but surely they should be in their lockers? Surely, they can just be contacted via a school phone, if needs be? They can communicate face-to-face in schools.

“Enforcing such rules won’t be easy, but these rules need to be strict. No bringing phones to bed. Leave them on the hall table. Create some space for the teenagers. I think that there’s a greater onus on parents than teachers to deal with online bullying and to teach children how to protect themselves online.

“The huge change in culture around privacy is another thing and something that my generation struggles to understand. But we have to warn children of how they are exposing themselves by putting so much private information up for anyone to see, information that will be there indefinitely. But, first, parents need to get up to speed, so they really can sit down and have a realistic, honest chat with children about the cyberbulling and its effects. They need to ensure their children know that cyberbullying can happen, can escalate very quickly, and that there can be pressure to join in. A lot of parents are fearful of technology and are happy with the most basic phone, for example. But this isn’t good enough if we want to help protect our children.”

*Read more:

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