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Cellphone use in schools to be reviewed by Cariboo Chilcotin school district

Superintendent Chris van der Mark said cellphone safety is part of a bigger conversation
The province is launching three concrete actions to keep kids safe when it comes to cellphone use at schools. (Pixabay photo)

The province announced it is launching restrictions on the use of cellphones in schools as a way to protect children and young people from online threats.

“While cellphones, the internet and social media help us connect with each other, they also present risks that can harm kids,” said Premier David Eby, noting how the impact of technology can be overwhelming for parents. The announcement came out on Jan. 26.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care said three concrete actions will be put in place: restricting cellphone use, launching services to remove images from the internet and pursue predators, and legislation holding social media companies accountable for the harm they’ve caused.

According to research, cellphone use can be distracting in the classroom, is addictive and impacts children’s mental health and physical safety due to cyberbullying, body-image distortion, sextortion (where youth are coerced into sending explicit images) and images shared without the owner’s consent.

School District 27 (SD27) does not have a specific policy in place regarding cell phone use in schools; however, superintendent Chris van der Mark told the Tribune they are already looking at the issue and will adapt their code of conduct accordingly.

“Cell phones, like most technology, they’re a powerful tool, but it’s really critical that they’re a tool to create space for dedicated learning,” said van der Mark, noting how there is a wide range of ways classrooms may use cellphones and technology.

The ministry said digital literacy training will become available, ensuring knowledge and tools are available in order for people to feel safe online from predators, become good digital citizens and develop healthy relationships with technology.

Van der Mark said the conversation surrounding cell phones and social media use is fascinating, and it’s a good reminder for parents to step back and be aware of what their children are doing on phones, who they’re communicating with and model appropriate behaviour when it comes to technology.

SD27 has had occasional issues with cellphones where they have had to remove the phone from a child due to inappropriate use. At times, parents have become upset about this, said van der Mark; however, he reminded parents schools do have that authority. For him, the key part is talking about safety and ensuring digital literacy is available for kids.

“I really encourage parents to be part of the conversation and be thoughtful consumers of it and be really engaged and mindful as to what their children are interacting with and how they’re doing it.”

READ MORE: SD27 superintendent, experts talk SOGI-inclusive education

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Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

I joined Black Press Media in 2022, and have a passion for covering topics on women’s rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial issues, mental health and the arts.
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