Review into mobile devices in NSW schools

October 04, 2018

A government review into the risks and benefits associated with the use of mobile digital devices, primarily smartphones, in NSW schools has been launched by the NSW Minister for Education.

The review will examine the policies, practices and views of government and non-government schools in NSW, including schools for specific purposes and central schools.

Federation will be making a submission and encourages members to complete a short survey to inform that document.

The terms of reference for the review have been set and are as follows:

1. Conduct a review of evidence related to the benefits and risks of mobile digital devices*, primarily smartphones, in schools for children and young people and approaches and practices to support students’ use of such devices in safe, responsible and informed ways. This will include:

a. An international literature review on the use and impact of digital devices in all school settings – primary, secondary, Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs) and Central Schools. This will include peer-reviewed scholarship from across disciplines and ‘grey’ literature (such as program evaluations and reports on evidence-based interventions).

b. Stakeholder consultation and feedback via focus groups and other mechanisms.

The consultation with children and young people will include when, how, and why they use mobile digital devices in order that the review’s recommendations align with and can effectively and meaningfully impact their practices.

2. The review will assess the extent to which having mobile digital devices in schools may contribute to or exacerbate identified risks, including cyber-bullying, image-based abuse, and access to online harm in schools.

3. The review will identify how children and young people can best be prepared to mitigate identified risks.

4. The review will identify best-practice approaches and practices for schools and parents to support students’ use of mobile digital devices in safe, responsible, and informed ways to promote learning and respectful relationships.

5. The review will consider whether a restriction or other limits should be placed on smartphone use for children in primary schools or children in certain age brackets. The practices of other jurisdictions will be informative in this regard.

*Mobile digital device: a hand-held electronic device that can receive, store, process and send digital information.