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Mobile phones and personal devices at school

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The department’s mobile phone policy (PDF 682 KB) has been updated to support safe and productive learning environments.

The policy means students must keep their mobile phones and other personal devices off and away for the whole school day.

Exemptions may be approved by individual schools.

This applies to all South Australian government primary and high schools.

Your school will provide more information about the policy update and what it means for your child during term 1 or 2 of 2023.

Use of mobile phones

Primary and high school students must keep their mobile phones and other personal devices, such as smartwatches, off and away for the whole school day while at school. This also applies on school camps or excursions.

The updated mobile phone policy will ensure we help promote:

  • safe environments with reduced negative impacts from inappropriate use of devices at school, such as cyberbullying or exposure to harmful content
  • classroom environments where teachers can teach, and students can learn, free from distractions caused by personal use of devices
  • use of breaks as quality time away from screens, encouraging physical activity, play and meaningful face-to-face connections.

The department consulted with key stakeholder groups to refine the details of the policy update, including exemptions for agreed positive uses of mobile phones and other personal devices.


There are no changes to the existing arrangements for principals to approve exemptions in exceptional circumstances, such as where:

  • the student uses their device to monitor or manage a medical condition (to be documented in the student’s health care plan)
  • the device is an agreed adjustment for a student with disability or learning difficulties (to be documented in the student’s OnePlan or other support plan)
  • 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.

The policy at your child’s school

Each school will update their local policy to ensure it aligns to the new department policy. Schools’ local policies will detail:

  • where students need to store their personal devices during school hours
  • how the school will respond if a student is not following the policy
  • the circumstances where students may be permitted by their teacher to use a personal device for learning or another agreed positive purpose (if applicable).

Schools will continue using their existing local policy until they are ready to start using the updated policy.

All schools need to be using the updated policy by the start of term 3, but some may transition sooner. Your child’s school will let you know about any changes and when they will start.

Communicating with your child at school

Students can retrieve their devices at the end of the school day to check and respond to messages and be in contact with their families and after school commitments.

Schools have communication processes available so that you can get in touch with your child during school hours if you need to. Contact your child’s school for assistance.

Likewise, school staff will contact you directly if needed.

Supporting safe and responsible use of devices

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

Adults can support students to make safe and positive choices by modelling responsible and respectful use of personal devices and helping children and young people develop the tools to self-manage their behaviour.

This includes learning:

  • when it’s appropriate to use devices for personal and recreational purposes
  • the importance of also having some ‘offline’ time each day to focus without distractions from personal devices
  • balancing screen time with physical activity or play, quality sleep, having face-to-face social connections, and spending time outdoors and doing other enjoyable offline activities for improved physical and mental health and wellbeing.

We know that mobile phones and personal devices can also be powerful learning tools for students. That’s why the department has provided flexibility for schools to decide whether to permit student use of devices for learning.

Resources for students and parents

The Department for Social Services’ Raising Children website contains written and video resources for parents about topics including role modelling positive behaviour with devices, supporting children’s responsible mobile phone use, cyberbullying and online safety, and balancing screen time with other important developmental activities (including physical activity, quality sleep, socialisation, and creative time):

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.

For general questions or concerns about this policy, contact the mobile phone policy helpline. You can also submit feedback about the policy via the online form.

Contact your child’s school directly to discuss requests for exemption due to exceptional circumstances, or if you have specific questions about how the policy is being implemented at their school.

Mobile phone policy helpline

Phone: 8463 5605
Email: education.mobilepolicy@sa.gov.au