Schools urged to follow in Billabong High's steps after principle bans mobile phones amid TikTok bullying – The Daily Advertiser

Science & Technology

PARENTS and educators are calling for every school to introduce a mobile phone ban as a way to end cyber-bullying and distractions within the classroom.
The plea comes after Billabong High School banned the use of the devices on its school grounds in response to an incident where social media platform TikTok was used to harass and intimidate students.
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Rebecca Ryan taught at the Culcairn school between 2008 and 2016.

During that time, Ms Ryan said mobile phones became increasingly problematic.
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“Billabong should have done this ages ago,” she said.
“I think all schools should because they [phones] are just a terrible distraction.”
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While working for the school, Ms Ryan said the conversation of banning phones was frequently brought up among staff but remained only a wishlist idea.

She suggested for the rules to have now been introduced, the TikTok-related incident must have been “very serious”.
“All the time there seemed to be bullying,” she said.

“But, it’s not the teacher’s job to police, it’s a teacher’s job to teach.”
On April 27, Billabong High School Principle Julie Bowen began a formal review of the school’s mobile phone policy and gave parents an opportunity to provide feedback before a final decision was made.
One of those who flagged concerns was parent Olive Morris, whose child is required to travel an hour on the bus every day and relies on her mobile to communicate with her mother.
Parents were later reassured that the rules around the use of phones outside of school hours have not changed.
“That was the biggest concern for me, I have absolutely no issues if you can’t use it during the day,” Ms Morris said.

Each student at the school has been provided with a Yonda pouch from the school – a small case in which students are to lock their phones upon arrival, only to be unlocked at the end of the day.
Ms Morris said her daughter, who is currently in year eight, worries that she may risk missing the bus at the end of the day while waiting to unlock her phone from the pouch.
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“They haven’t set up these locking and unlocking stations yet to know how that will work,” Ms Morris said.
“I don’t want her to stress thinking, ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to miss the bus but I haven’t unlocked my phone.”
However, if the ban dissolves cyber-bullying within the schooling community, she believes the school’s new mobile phone policy is worth introducing.

“It impresses me that the school is taking a big step and that they’ve identified a big problem and are working to stamp it out before it becomes a bigger issue.”
Mobile phones are already banned in NSW public primary schools however public high schools have the flexibility to set their own policies.

A spokesperson for NSW Education said: “This decision to ban mobile phones at Billabong High School was made after extensive consultation with the school community.”
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Hayley grew up in Carabost, a small Agricultural community an hour south-east of Wagga. She migrated to Wollongong in 2018 to pursue a degree in Journalism. Today, you can find her covering events, entertainment and human interest at The Daily Advertiser. Email: hayley.wilkinson@dailyadvertiser.com.au
Hayley grew up in Carabost, a small Agricultural community an hour south-east of Wagga. She migrated to Wollongong in 2018 to pursue a degree in Journalism. Today, you can find her covering events, entertainment and human interest at The Daily Advertiser. Email: hayley.wilkinson@dailyadvertiser.com.au
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