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I feel as though I am in a constant battle with my son’s mobile phone for his time, affection and love. While frustrated and at times even distraught by this, I suppose I am not alone in feeing somewhat overwhelmed by the intensity of the battle. Ever since we agreed to provide him with a phone, I have found my frustration levels increasing and, especially as the end of last term approached and my tolerance levels became depleted, I know that I became quite short with him as I sought to gain his attention. I don’t think I’m being too unreasonable, am I? Surely, it’s alright to expect that he responds to my questions as we drive to School rather than take a photo of SAMHRI to post on Instagram so that his friends know where he is?! I expect that my experiences as a parent are not unique and that there are growing levels of frustration and concern in the broader Saints community.

Similar and growing concerns are also present in the School environment. Firstly, we are concerned about the distraction and disruption that phones can cause to a student’s learning. Even if the phone is on silent, it can buzz continuously alerting the user to updates and new messages. Secondly, students seem to be spending more time on their phones during recess and lunchtime. It’s as though the allure of the virtual world has become more important and interesting than human to human contact in the real world.

Many people might argue that this is simply part of what it means to exist in the world today and that as a School we should simply acknowledge this new reality. At St Peter’s College we have decided to oppose this view because we believe that we have a responsibility as teachers and educators to ensure that our students have the best opportunity to learn. We also believe that we must encourage and privilege human interactions over the virtual, to ensure that we develop as a human and humane community. Accordingly, we have made some significant changes to our mobile phone policy. From the beginning of this term, students must lock their phones in their lockers during the School day. Your sons will still be able to access their phones briefly at the beginning of recess and lunch to check if there is any important news from home. It is our hope that this change will both enhance student learning and human relationships at Saints. I hope that I can muster up the courage to put similar limits on my son’s mobile phone use as well. Wish me luck! Pro Deo et Patria.

Ben Hanisch
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School