Make kids get phone licence, says expert

NSW schools should introduce a licence for students before they can use mobile phones and tablets at school, says the adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.

His intention is not to ban them, rather to facilitate greater use of technology by first teaching students what safe and responsible use is and then obtaining their agreement to abide by a set of rules and conditions.

Students would sit a licence test online with their parents needing to sign up to validate their digital rights, says Dr Carr-Gregg, who has written a report for the Queensland Education Department.

''There is absolutely no point in banning them because it is going to be the central part of their education. This would at least ensure they have the skills, the knowledge, strategies and basic competencies before they've brought the device to school,'' Dr Carr-Gregg said.

But a leading NSW educator rejected the idea. Greg Whitby, the executive director of schools in the Catholic diocese of Parramatta, said the technology needed to be accepted as a seamless part of students' lives. ''The focus has to be not on a licence but on education, education and education. Commonsense approaches, where schools work with parents, will be what moves us forward,'' he said.

Dr Carr-Gregg was speaking at a learning and teaching with technology conference in Melbourne yesterday.

''I just think it's time we grew up around this technology. It's far more important to their education that they use this technology in a safe, smart, responsible manner,'' he said.

Lila Mularczyk, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, said attitudes towards new technology were changing rapidly in schools.

''They're now being looked at as learning devices rather than as naughty aspects of learning,'' she said. ''Our position is you don't ban them. You have conversations and structured learning about what being a good digital citizen is.''

NSW public school students already have to sign a charter on responsible use when they receive laptops provided under a federal government program.

The story Make kids get phone licence, says expert first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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