School bans phones at break time
Unplugged: Teachers noticed students were texting friends instead of talking to each other. Picture: Supplied

Prestigious girls' school Penrhos College has banned students from using mobile phones during their lunch and recess breaks because of concerns students are losing the art of conversation.

Principal Meg Melville said, even though girls were sitting in groups during breaks, teachers had become aware students were texting their friends instead of talking to each other.

"We decided we wanted to really encourage them during their break times at school to have conversations with one another, face-to-face," she said.

Mrs Melville said technology was embedded in the curriculum and mobile phones had become an important part of that.

But it was just as important for students to develop conversation skills such as understanding the nuances conveyed by people's reactions and body language.

"You can gauge how a conversation is going by looking at the way people are responding - you can't do that in texting," she said.

"It's just about being present in the moment. They don't have to be taking photos of themselves or pictures of what they've had for lunch at the canteen."

Mrs Melville said many adults also did not realise it was "incredibly rude" to look at their phone when with other people.

She said students could still immerse themselves in social media outside school hours.

Most parents had been supportive since the school imposed the ban two weeks ago because it was a problem they battled at home.

Previously, students from Years 7 to 12 were allowed to use their mobile phones during breaks but not in class.

Other private schools range from allowing phones at all times or banning them.

Santa Maria College principal Ian Elder said though phone use was discouraged during breaks, the school accepted they were a normal part of modern life.

"These devices are part of what they have grown up with," he said. "It's a whole of society thing, this fascination with texting everyone and having immediate feedback."

Wesley College principal David Gee said he preferred students to be talking to each other or being physically active during breaks instead of using their phones.

The Education Department said personal use of mobile phones was banned during class time, but individual schools had discretion to set their own rules around phone use at other times.


The West Australian

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