Should mobile phones be banned from schools?

Schools around the world are starting to get on board with banning mobile phones from the classroom.

Nomophobia. You may not have heard this word before but we can pretty much guarantee that most of us know its relevance. The Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year describes, “the sense of fear or worry that arises when someone is without their mobile phone or unable to use it.”

Smartphone reliance

A flat battery can be inconvenient at times, but a lost phone can be almost panic-inducing when you realise half your life is in that smartphone that is now no longer in your possession. But our smartphone reliance (or is that addiction?) is made perfectly clear by the number of kids who are seemingly glued to their phones throughout the day.

Schools ban mobile phone use

State Government in New South Wales announced that from 2019 primary school students would be banned from bringing mobile phones to school. The move was the result of a review into phone use in classrooms and is hoped to reduce the prevalence of cyber bullying, sexual images, and distractions. There is provision for special requests from parents where a phone can be accessed before or after school.

Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg who led the review reportedly told 2GB, “It’s all really about kids focusing on lessons, better socialising, reducing social media use and reducing online bullying and online image abuse.”

In France, primary and middle school students up the age of 15 are prohibitied from using mobile phones while at school.

Some New Zealand schools have also recently introduced a ban. St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton prohibits Year 9 and 10 students from bringing smartphones to school. Senior students are allowed to bring a phone but must leave it in a box at the front of the class. Tararua College and Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls are among other schools to introduce bans. Often the bans are requested or supported by parents.

Why does a primary school child need a mobile phone?

The reasons why a parent wants their child to have a mobile phone are varied and down to personal choice. Being able to contact a child easily if they are taking public transport to or from school, travelling to sports or activities, or if there is a civil emergency, is reassuring for parents, and vice-versa. But the reality is that such a need can usually be met by a phone with no camera or internet access.

Often people who grew up without today’s amazing technology will argue that we survived our school days without the need to be in constant contact with our parents. But the world is a much different place to the one that Generation X and Baby Boomers grew up in.

Extending the smartphone ban to high schools

Dr Carr-Gregg also suggested banning phones for students beyond primary school (up to and including year 10) and strictly limiting access for years 11 and 12. The NSW Education Minister said that sometimes mobile phones are useful in high school when used to augment learning activities but can also be dangerous and a distraction.

Smartphones are definitely a distraction from studies for some students and inappropiate or obsessive use can be harmful. Kids need to have clear guidelines of what is and isn’t appropriate. But just because the way that this generation communicates is different to what is considered to be the norm, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s wrong – as long as it’s safe. It must also be remembered that smartphones are widely used by some high schools as a tool for school notices, timetables, contact for sports teams. Some schools even have their own apps for students and parents to access academic results, activity calendars, absence reporting and more.

Should NZ consider a nationwide mobile phone ban for kids at school? Join the discussion in the comments below.


  1. Alezandra 03/03/2019 at 11:14 pm

    I feel like if you think your child needs a mobile phone mainly for emergency – maybe it should just be a simple mobile phone that has text and call features instead of a smartphone. The smartphone is a culprit for the distraction with social media, gaming etc.

  2. SarahBlair 02/03/2019 at 10:05 pm

    Thats a hard one.. many high school kids will use their mobile phone to source information needed for their school work, or as calculators but they are not necessary for primary school kids.

  3. felicity beets 02/03/2019 at 7:49 pm

    I like the idea of banning them for reasons to help prevent bullying – as there seems to be so much bullying online now. However I think that phones can be helpful for when children are making their own way home or to get messages if plans change – for safety reasons.

  4. kymmage 01/03/2019 at 7:13 am

    My eldest has a phone with her for school now she is in intermediate school. Her school has a rule that it’s off and with the teacher during class and that works well. For her, she needs the assurance of being able to get hold of me or her dad should she need us. With her so far away from home base it’s a peace of mind thing. Many families are split, or have working parents, etc so I think phones have a place. But the social/bullying aspect does worry me.

  5. MuddledUpMolly 27/02/2019 at 3:33 pm

    I definitely don’t think primary or intermediate children need cell phones. If it was for the purpose of contact with parents etc. then there’s no reason why it can’t be kept with the school office. Teachers shouldn’t have to manage them, they already do more than enough!

  6. dawnblyth 27/02/2019 at 11:40 am

    I don’t think there is any need for a primary or intermediate aged child to have a cell phone. I think it is something that can wait until the child can pay for it themselves with a part time job.

  7. Jen_Wiig 13/02/2019 at 1:12 pm

    Bith my biys have mobile phones… One is final year at primary and ither final year of intermediate… They have them as entertainment on way to school on days i domt deop them off and they carch trains and also for communication with me, dad, nana… BUT both schools have a policy where in the mornings you place your device in te teacher phone tray and the teacher then sends a runner to office for them to be locked up until end of school whwn same runner goes gets the tray and you collect your device on the way out of class… It works well and keeos everyone hapoy i guess. I domt think a blanket ban will ever work personally and dont believe its veey beneficial… We live in a world where technology is more and more relied on amd apparent… We made it this way so embrace it and make it work for you

  8. Shorrty4life1 13/02/2019 at 1:03 pm

    Tablets are fine but mobile phones I’ve always got a major safety concern with kids having these. Theres so much bullying that can happen from behind the scenes. And also kids getting on Facebook too long and meeting up with the wrong people. It’s a very scary reality. I myself believe there should be a ban. And definitely a ban at school but then again if your child is getting bullied you sort of want them to be able to call on you etc

  9. Bevik1971 12/02/2019 at 4:52 pm

    I don’t think primary aged children need cellphones – there are kids smart watches that are specifically for younger kids that the parents can keep in touch with. Our 6 year old won’t be getting a cellphone for a long time, I really don’t like how they are just the norm now, the digital age can be really quite scary!

  10. Mands1980 12/02/2019 at 12:07 pm

    I think (NZ) schools should do this as well there is way too much bullying going on and if they are at school why are they needed? Even at my kids primary school children own and even take there’s to school. I have had my children asking for one now but have said they do not need one. They should not be using them at school even at high school.

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