Local schools have welcomed new state government legislation that will see all Victorian public school students banned from using their phones at school.
From term one 2020, students from prep to year 12 will have to switch off their phones and store them in lockers until the final bell.
'Let kids be kids'
Warrnambool Primary School has been vigilant about phone use since introducing iPad technology into classrooms, and already has steps in place to curb school phone use.
"We currently have a policy where students don't have phones in the classrooms, they are handed into the teacher or the front office," principal Peter Auchettl said.
"The reason being, we don't use mobile phones for educational purposes, we use iPads instead because they have larger screens and we supply the educational apps that go on it.
"Kids aren't allowed to take their devices outside either. If parents need to contact their children they can ring the school."
A number of schools across Warrnambool have taken mobile phone use into their own hands.
Mr Auchettl said the ban will let kids get back to being kids.
"As a parent I think it's great for kids," he said.
"Wouldn't it be good for kids to actually talk to one another and play games together without the distraction of devices?"
Minister backs state decision
Education Minister and Wannon MP Dan Tehan said current mobile phone use in the classroom is getting out of control.
"What we're seeing at the moment is students continually distracted by their phones, and no-one is certain what material they might be looking at while on their phones at school and how appropriate that material might be," Mr Tehan said.
"We've seen a rapid increase in cyber bullying as a result of phone use and that's just some reasons why I support this ban.
Mr Tehan said he has pushed for the ban since he took on the education portfolio last year.
A similar policy was first proposed by the Liberal opposition in February 2018, before the November state election at which time the Andrews government said bans were the decision of individual schools.
"This is something I've been advocating for since I became Education Minister," he said.
"I would encourage all other state and territory governments to follow the lead of Victoria and to implement a ban.
"This was something we took to the last election as an election commitment to work with states and territories to see a ban put in place and it's something I fully endorse."
Ban tackles cyber bullying
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said the move would help "stop cyberbullying at the gate", citing recent research from Headspace, the non-profit organisation for youth mental health, which found more than half of all young people have experienced cyberbullying.
"I know this won't be universally popular, but I've come to the conclusion that it's the right thing to do," Mr Merlino said.
"Students are more engaged in the classroom and in the schoolyard, they're talking to each other rather than looking at their phones."
Exceptions will only be granted to students who use their phones to monitor health conditions, or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a particular classroom activity.
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