Mobiles banned by college as tweens tap into social media

Jarrah Kearney, 8, navigates around the internet on the family laptop with mum, Reef, looking over his shoulder.
Jarrah Kearney, 8, navigates around the internet on the family laptop with mum, Reef, looking over his shoulder. Brett Wortman

COAST students are being asked to place mobile phones in baskets at the front of classrooms in an attempt to protect them from cyber space.

A new report into the use of technology by tweens (eight to 12-year-old) says 67% use a social media site, with one in five admitting to chatting to a stranger online.

Caloundra Christian College has banned mobile phones during class, at lunch and in hallways in an effort to curb social media use.

Principal Mark Hodges said potentially dangerous websites were difficult to monitor on mobile phones.

"We use filters to prevent students accessing particular websites during school hours, but we cannot stop them accessing them on their mobile phones," Mr Hodges said.

"We focus more on raising awareness about what's appropriate and what's not.

"We also ask students to put phones in a basket at the front of the class, and we have banned their use throughout the day."

Immanuel Lutheran College principal David Bliss said social media and smartphone games were making students fatigued and aggressive.

"We have discovered that some students are staying up late on these sites and then struggling when it comes to school," Mr Bliss said.

"We try to educate our students on the appropriate use of sites, but also talk to parents about the dangers some of these sites pose."

The McAfee Secret Life of Teens report found that despite the age eligibility for Facebook being 13, one in four tweens was using the site, and about 95% of parents allowed their child to use social media.

Caloundra mother Reef Kearney said internet access had been cut at her home to prevent eight-year-old son Jarrah accessing dangerous online sites.

"At their age, they don't understand that certain sites can be dangerous," Mrs Kearney said.

Topics:  editors picks mobile phones

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