I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.
Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.
Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked? Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!
It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?
I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.
According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.
It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.
Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!
We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!
Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.
You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.
We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!
Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.
The village needs you!
Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!
It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.
It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost