Australia

Review of smartphone use in NSW schools

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has ordered a review of smartphone use in schools. (AAP)

Concerns smartphones in schools lead to cyberbullying and distracted children will be addressed in a NSW review which could lead to a phone ban in schools.

Technology has been touted as the future of NSW classrooms but some parents and teachers are concerned it's distracting students and leading to a rise in cyberbullying.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes on Thursday ordered a review of the use of smartphones in schools following concerns from parents.

"While smartphones connect us to the world in ways never imagined just a decade ago, they raise issues that previous generations have not had to deal with," Mr Stokes said in a statement.

Former St Paul's Catholic College principal Mark Baker, who banned the use of mobile phones in the Manly school's classrooms, insists the review needs to go further and look at the impact and appropriateness of technology in schools.

"There's been a blind rush to embrace technology ... children are totally immersed in it," the now relief-principal told AAP on Thursday.

Mr Baker said while smartphones can be "fantastic" for learning they often distract students and allow them to access inappropriate material or bully others in class.

As a teacher for 42 years, Mr Baker believes NSW should look at South Korea's policy, which bans students from using any electronic device until they reach grade 5.

"It's the land of Samsung and their mantra is the book. They recognise the most powerful thing in a school is a book, not an electronic device," he said.

The state review, led by prominent child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, will consult with cyber-safety experts and look at policies in other countries including France which has banned phone use on school grounds.

"We're dealing with something that can be very good and also very bad," Dr Carr-Gregg told AAP on Thursday.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron insists the review needs to be steered by teachers who experience issues related to mobile phone use on a daily basis.

"Teachers are reporting students are extraordinarily difficult to deal with," Mr Mulheron told AAP.

He cited bullying and harassment, distractive behaviour and cheating in exams as some of the issues.

Linda McNeil from the Council of Catholic School Parents says smartphones can be distractive, are often used for reasons other than study and frequent use has been linked to depression in young people.

But, she concedes if they are used with appropriate guidelines, they can be a "valuable tool".

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham believes mobile phones have no place in classrooms - but technology does.

The review is open-ended with no reporting date set.

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