Paul Blackwell.
Paul Blackwell.

Mobile phones part of the back to school pack

FATHER of three, Paul Blackwell, does not see the need for parents to give their school aged children a mobile phone as part of their back to school kit.

“It’s too much of a distraction for them to have a mobile phone,” said Mr Blackwell, of Tintenbar.

“What are they going to use if for? To text their friends standing only 50 feet away?

“And if they need to call us they can go to the school office and the staff there will call us.”

Mr Blackwell’s comments are in reply to Telstra’s announcement that mobile phones should be considered an essential part of school students’ back to school list.

Telstra executive director, Jenny Young, said some parents bought their children mobile phones as a safety measure when catching public transport, or travelling to after-school activities.

“Parents want to stay in touch with their children but they’re also concerned about blowing the budget,” she said.

“It’s important for parents to teach kids owning a mobile phone is a privilege not a right and urge parents to sit down with their kids to set a budget for the use of their phone.”

Mr Blackwell said he and his wife, Dee, would buy their children a mobile phone for a present, but it was up to them to fund its use.

“I don’t know any parents who like their children taking mobile phones to school,” he said.

“We all agree that if a child has special needs then its okay, but teachers have to know of the phone’s existence if a child takes one to school.

“But really they don’t need it because the school can ring a parent if there is an emergency.”

Department of Education spokesman, Sven Wright, said public high schools on the Northern Rivers did not ban mobile phones at school.

“Each school has individual guidelines,” he said.

“Usually the child is asked to turn off the phone while at school and if they don’t the phone is taken away from them and given back at the end of the day.”

Mr Wright said Kadina, Lismore and Casino High School students had to turn off their mobiles at all times including breaks, while at Byron Bay High School, students were required to turn off their phones only during class time.

Mr Wright said school policies covering the use of mobile phones by school students became necessary when the phones became so popular with students.

Mobile phones are unlikely to disappear from the playground in the near future, so Telstra has offered some handy hints for students and parents to avoid mobile phone debt.

  • Remember a mobile phone is a privilege not a right.
  • Work out a budget and teach children how to stick to it.
  • Text messages have hidden costs, especially those for competitions which have a 19 number. Also a message of over 160 characters will be charged as two messages.
  • Use pre-paid options.

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