Hurtful video or evidence?

Filming as a crowd can be used for evidence

There have been many incidents over the years of students filming a fight or harassment. They are hard to watch as innocent children or teenagers are subjected to horrific abuse. The most recent case has led to many parents and teachers calling for a ban on mobile phones claiming that they help incite the situation further. What they don’t seem to realise is that video footage becomes evidence to charge the bully and the people who stand by and watch the event. It is valuable to not only prosecute the main culprits but those that allow or condone the harassment in the first place. Without video evidence, many cases of harassment and physical assault will not be dealt with appropriately as it becomes difficult to ascertain the real truth. It is much easier for a teacher, Principal, and/or Police to watch a video than to interview every person to discover what actually happened. Filming the event is only beneficial if the person is using it for evidence. Those that use it as a means to gloat and brag should receive the same punishment as the bully.


Cyberbully or Cyberstrength?

Learning how to deal with cyberbullying and what to do about it

Trolling, cyberbullying, keyboard warrior (which is a horrible term as they are definitely not warriors), or any other name you call it, is pathetic. Unfortunately, it has become an integral part of living online. Instead of banning phones to reduce the number of time students can be exposed to online taunts, wouldn’t teaching them what to do in the face of cyberbullying be better? Having a strong anti bullying policy that is led by the Executive to class teachers to the welfare team, combined with a mobile phone policy that limits their usage, deters many instances of cyberbullying. If students understand that what they post online, either in school or after, has the potential to have serious repercussions is paramount to stamping out the behaviour. Showing students how to screenshot content, use the online reporting system within all social media programs, block users, increase their privacy settings, and where to go if they see something not appropriate holds more potential than simply banning and ignoring the tool.


Chatting or Battling

Online chat safety is crucial for students

Nearly every game played has an online community, whether played on PC, console, or phone. Players are constantly interacting with other people from all around the world with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Learning to distinguish between game banter and harassment is paramount to increasing understanding and resilience. Knowing what to and what not to say in these forums and game chats are crucial for student safety. It is very easy for a person to collect personal information over time as they continue chatting with the same online users. Allowing students to bring in evidence from their games as proof or to open discussions about inappropriate behaviour enables students to have greater power when online. Giving students a list of things to never mention in game chats - such as where they holiday, work, suburb, real name, the school they attend should reduce their online risk.


An attraction to distraction

Using notifications to your advantage

Mobile phones are a distraction. They constantly scream for attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Notifications beep, vibrate, flash, or make any form of sound to alert the user of “something important”. People go crazy if they can not find their phone or, heaven forbid, the battery starts to run low! We tend to keep them handy - in our pockets, pencil case or desk, just in case the phone needs us. The current generation has grown up watching adults stare at their phones more and more. The same thing occurs when people use computers. They usually have more than one tab open, are streaming music or a show, and have a program or two open in the background, maybe even a game. When computers first came out, Minesweeper and Solitaire were the only distractions available. Today, the whole world is a distraction online. So why blame mobile phones? Simply because they are portable and easy to have on you at any time. They are able to do similar tasks as a computer, right there in your pocket. Students should be adding their assignments into an online calendar with multiple reminders, even a calendar that is shared by a parent to help keep track. Setting up “Do Not Disturb” hours, restricting what calls and messages they receive, turning off notifications for specific times, and leaving them in a bag until needed in class is much simpler than an outright ban.


Harmful or helpful

Using phones for learning

There is a myriad of uses that something small, light and portal that is connected to the world wide web with the power of a computer can do for students.

  • Coding
  • App development
  • Taking photographs of missing work or incomplete notes
  • Evidence tracking for VET students in completing competencies
  • With BYOD not all students have access to a laptop, but most have access to their phone
  • Accessing school communication like Google Classroom or Edmodo when their laptop is not available
  • Trello for teamwork assessments that are shared amongst all members and “chunks” the task into small manageable pieces
  • AR technology, video and photography are increasing in their classroom applications

This list is definitely not exhaustive, and some of these can be achieved on something larger, but a mobile phone is faster and easier. People have built entire businesses either around phones or using their phone. Teaching appropriate usage rather than banning will be more successful and beneficial to the next generation. Besides, there was bullying and distractions before mobile phones, so banning them will not stop the problem.