Last year the NSW Education Minister commissioned an independent review into the non-educational use of mobile digital devices in NSW schools. Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, together with Associate Professor Amanda Third and cyber safety expert Susan McLean, consulted with a large range of stakeholders, including students, over several months. The findings of the Review were published in December last year.
One of the 8 recommendations of the Review was that the use of mobile devices during school hours should be restricted in NSW public primary schools. NSW public high schools can opt into this restriction or pursue the approach that best suits their circumstances and the needs of their diverse communities.
The Impact on Student Wellbeing
Reactions to this recommendation have understandably been varied. The Review itself notes the possible friction involved in respect to the balance between the essential development of self-regulation, and the need to protect young people, particularly those who for a range of reasons may be more vulnerable than others.
Some concerns about excessive screen time include the consequent reduction of face to face social connectedness, reduced inclination to be involved in community activities and the development of values which are skewed towards materialism. In particular, the role of smartphones in bullying and other forms of abuse are widely addressed in the Review.
Working closely with teachers, The Peer Support Program features both the structures and content to help counter the impact of such concerns, whether or not they are related to technology. These include the fundamental nature of the program, being focused as it is on fostering meaningful, positive and direct interaction between young people, and modules specifically targeting areas of learning such as maintaining healthy friendships and developing authentic personal and community values.
Since our inception in the 1970’s, The Peer Support Program and resources have been developed to facilitate communication, reflection and learning by young people on key issues which affect individual and community wellbeing. Our modules are designed to stimulate understanding and practice of behaviours such as upstanding, engaging positively in the community and generally developing a pro-social orientation.
If you would like to know more about specific Peer Support modules which can help your school to address these significant areas, take a look at our website or contact one of our Wellbeing Consultants.