Nearly 70% of primary schools encountering problems as a result of smartphone / social media use outside of school

A recent survey of primary school leaders has highlighted the dramatic impact smartphones and social media usage can have on and in our primary schools. This survey was carried out ahead of the largest gathering of primary school principals in Europe, at the upcoming IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference taking place this Thursday and Friday, 24th and 25th January in Citywest Convention Centre in Dublin.

An ESRI report, published on 15th January 2019, has stated that 40 per cent of children own a mobile phone by the age of 9. This has resulted in primary schools having to define a strategy on the use of mobile phones in their schools. The recent survey carried out by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) has determined that 84% of primary schools currently have a smartphone policy in place.

The survey has also told us that 1% of primary schools do allow pupils to use their mobile phones in school. 38% of respondents stated that they do allow pupils to have their mobile phones while in school but they are not allowed to be used during school hours. A further 61% specified that mobile phones are not allowed on school premises.

Even though 99% of primary schools do not allow mobile phones to be used during school hours, 34% of respondents have told us that staff have encountered problems as a result of smartphone / social media use in school. Furthermore, an astounding 68% have stated that they have encountered problems as a result of smartphone / social media use outside of school.

IPPN President, David Ruddy said ‘technology and smartphone usage can have huge advantages on society when used in a constructive or creative way. However, it can also be a means to facilitate negative encounters for young people. More often than not, the onus is put on schools to resolve these issues even though they have occurred outside of school hours on a personal device.’

Mr. Ruddy continued to state ‘Parents that choose to purchase a smartphone for their child, also need to take responsibility and contribute to the education of their children on the use of smartphones and social media on a social level as well as a developmental level’.

IPPN encourages its members to formulate a smartphone policy that works best for their school. A collaborative approach by the school, parents and pupils can often be the most effective way to facilitate this and to contribute to successful implementation.

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