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Using mobile phones and personal devices at school

The department has introduced a policy for the use of mobile phones and personal devices in government schools.

The policy applies to students’ mobile phones and personal devices including smart watches, iPads and tablets, and personal laptops. 

The policy does not relate to laptops or other devices that are supplied by the school or brought by students under a school’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for learning purposes.

Student use of mobile phones and personal devices

The departments advice is:

  • primary school students are not allowed to use their personal devices during school hours
  • high schools will have their own policy about when students are allowed to use their personal devices at school, if at all.

There may be circumstances where students need an exemption from the policy, which will be considered by school principals on a case-by-case basis. 

All students can continue to bring their personal devices to school: 

  • to ensure their safety while travelling
  • so that parents and children can contact each other outside school hours. 

When students are at school, they must follow the expectations in their school's local policy. 

Using mobile phones and personal devices in primary schools

Primary students are not permitted to use personal devices while at school, unless they have an approved exemption.

All primary schools need to use the departments policy, but each school will decide:

  • where students’ personal devices will be kept while they are at school
  • what will happen if a student is not following the policy
  • when the local policy will next be reviewed.

Primary schools will publish this information in their local policy. They are encouraged to make it available on their school website.

Using mobile phones and personal devices in high schools

High schools will continue making their own policies about students using personal devices. For example, high schools will decide if students:

  • will not use their device during school hours
  • can use their device in certain times and places, such as recess and lunch breaks
  • will have different expectations based on their year level
  • can be given permission by a teacher to use their device for learning purposes in a class.

High schools also need to decide:

  • where students’ personal devices will be kept when they are at school
  • what will happen if a student is not following the policy
  • when the local policy will next be reviewed.

High schools will publish this information in their local policy. They are encouraged to make it available on their school website.

Schools with both primary and secondary students

These schools can decide:

  • if all students (including high school students) will not access their personal devices during school hours
  • to have a different set of requirements for primary students and high school students at the school.

Exemptions for using mobile phones and personal devices at school

There may be circumstances where a student needs to use a personal device during school hours. This could include:

  • the student uses their device to monitor or manage a medical condition
  • the device is an agreed adjustment for a student with disability or learning difficulties
  • the device is used for translation by a student with English as an additional language or dialect (EALD)
  • the student has extenuating personal circumstances and needs immediate access to their device, such as being the primary carer for younger siblings.

Principals can approve individual student exemptions from the policy.

Parent involvement

If your child has a mobile phone or personal device at school they should follow the school’s expectations for managing devices.

By the end of term 2, 2021 each school will have a local policy in place detailing their expectations including what students need to do with any personal devices when they get to school. Contact your child’s school directly to:

  • get a copy of their local policy
  • raise a request for exemption for your child
  • discuss any questions or concerns.

Your school is encouraged to consult with their community when completing and reviewing their local policy. 

Please speak with your child’s school to find out how you can be involved or provide feedback.

Communicating with your school

Schools have communication processes so you can get in touch with your child during school hours. Please contact your child’s school’s office for assistance.

Early pick up of students from school, including if they become unwell, are arranged with school staff so the student can be properly signed out. Please encourage your child to always let a staff member know in the first instance, if they are feeling unwell or experiencing an issue at school so that staff can provide appropriate support

The policy at your child's school

Schools, in partnership with families, need to provide clear guidance for students to become informed, safe, respectful and responsible digital users.

When the use of personal devices is not regulated at school, they reduce students’ capacity to fully engage in their learning and may put them at risk of harm. This can include being exposed to: 

  • cyberbullying
  • harmful content or behaviour
  • impact on their development of communication skills. 

We know that mobile phones and personal devices can be powerful learning tools for older students when they are used with good teacher guidance. These devices can have applications to learning areas such as coding or robotics. Functions installed on devices, such as advanced cameras can help students explore and document their learnings. For this reason, the department has provided flexibility for high schools to decide their local policy.

Resources for parents

Below are some helpful resources from the Commonwealth’s Raising Children website. 

The eSafety Commissioner’s website contains helpful resources and free webinars on topics including online safety basics, how to use parental controls on devices, advice about popular social media sites and apps, and managing screen time at home.
 

General enquiries

Phone: 8226 1000
Free call: 1800 088 158
Email: education.customers [at] sa.gov.au