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One of the great challenges that families and schools face as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, is how we balance the tension between supporting our boys to become technologically literate and capitalise on the benefits that mobile devices provide, whilst protecting them from the very real dangers of misuse, addiction and over-reliance. When we reviewed our Mobile Phone Policy at Saints four years ago our primary concern was ensuring that we protected students from being harassed, targeted or excluded at school through the misuse of social media. And whilst this will always remain an area for ongoing discussion and education, our students have generally demonstrated a very good ethical understanding of how to manage and use social media.

Of increasing concern in the school context today is the rapid rise in the use of social media platforms that provide instant alerts to students whenever a friend, follower or followee creates a post. These alerts are instant and human nature dictates an immediate curiosity. It’s the same feeling we get when receiving a letter, opening a present, hearing the ding of a text or an email; we are curious to know who it is from and what it entails. Someone is including us, and it feels good.

At Senior School Muster this week I spoke with students about why it is law that drivers of vehicles are not even allowed to touch their phones whilst behind the wheel. This law exists not because our law-makers are concerned about what we are accessing on our phones, nor is it designed to raise revenue or assert authority. The law exists because humans are unable to focus on any more than one thing at a time. People can have many things on their mind, but their focus cannot be in two places at once. If we are texting behind the wheel, we are not focused on driving.

In the same way, if a student is in class and is focused on the buzzing, ringing or dinging of the phone in his pocket, then he is not focused on his learning. And learning is our core business. Hence our recently adopted position of expecting students to have phones in lockers throughout the day. Students have been reminded of this expectation this week and we will have a focus over the next fortnight of ensuring these expectations are being met.

We very much appreciate the support of parents in this regard and welcome questions or conversations at any time.

James Tamblyn
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School