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Ballard School – Headmaster’s Blog 17 September 2015 – Hold the ‘phone

September 17, 2015

There has been a lot of comment in the Press of late concerning mobile ‘phone usage in school and by young people in alastair reid mar 14lowresgeneral. One article I have just read makes the following statement: ‘When it comes to the wellbeing of the children under our care, is it possible that we could be missing the obvious? Smartphone usage has ballooned recently with school-aged children primary users…(and)… I feel there’s a risk that smartphone usage amongst children is leading to significant problems for young people’ (David Paton, Head of Radnor House School in Twickenham, Independent Leader magazine, September 2015). This writer picks up on comments that the constant use of such devices could be causing some children to display ‘autistic’ behaviour and he goes so far as to advocate a Government ban on smartphone usage for the under 16s.

I can’t say that I fully subscribe to the latter view, not least because Canute-like the tide is already running strongly in the other direction no matter what we say or attempt to do. That is not to say that we should do nothing and simply hold our adult hands up in despair whilst our young bury their faces in their screens. At Ballard School we do allow young people, usually those of secondary age, to bring a mobile ‘phone to school at their own risk. They have to be turned off during the day or risk the item being confiscated for a week. A few staff might allow usage in a lesson for limited research or to record a science experiment for later viewing, for example. We give clear guidance about the use of social network sites and IT access in general and, as explained in a recent meeting with parents, we strongly advise that mobile (and other electronic) devices are banned from the bedroom. One parent explained how her children have called her evening receptacle for all devices ‘the basket from hell’ but they have grown to accept (even grudgingly agree) that having the temptation removed their night-time routine has become stress-free and more relaxed. Another parent said that the only charging facility for mobiles in their house is in a room used by the parents in the evening and so once again no mobile device is taken into a young person’s bedroom.

Alastair Reid, Headmaster @BallardSchool 

Not that long ago we were decrying the positioning of TVs in children’s bedrooms and now we are faced with mobiles, laptops, iPads, X-boxes, etc. It will be a battle to be had with children but surely it is one worth fighting for the longer term health and well-being of our children?

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)


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