Nearly half of students favour school smartphone ban

Nine in 10 are concerned about their online security following Facebook scandal

Many of the 5,500 students surveyed have set their social media accounts to private mode, which limits how much of their information is shared publicly. Photograph: iStock

Many of the 5,500 students surveyed have set their social media accounts to private mode, which limits how much of their information is shared publicly. Photograph: iStock

 

Nearly half of second-level students believe smartphones should be banned in schools, according to a new survey.

There have been increasing calls for smartphones and tablet devices to be banned in schools due to concerns over bullying and online child safety.

Last month Minister for Education Richard Bruton announced a consultation process with parents and students on whether use of the devices should be curtailed during school hours.

Some bodies, including the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, recommended policies governing the “responsible use” of smartphones rather than outright bans.

Many individual primary schools ban the use of smartphones but secondary school students are often allowed use them in class for study purposes.

A survey by the exams website, Studyclix.ie, found 41 per cent of students are in favour of a smartphone ban in school. An earlier survey found 60 per cent of teachers support a ban.

The latest study also found almost 90 per cent of students are concerned about their online privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal.

Snapchat

Many of the 5,500 students surveyed have set their social media accounts to private mode, which limits how much of their information is shared publicly.

However, when it comes to Snapchat – the most popular platform among students – one in three allow the app to share their exact location at all times.

“As a teacher I would always recommend that students have this set to ‘ghost mode’ to hide their whereabouts. In a conversation with a student recently he reported that the main advantage enabling ghost mode is that his father can’t track his whereabouts,” said Studyclix founder Luke Saunders.

In terms of popularity, Facebook – which three years ago was the most popular platform – is now third behind Snapchat and Instagram. Seventy-two per cent of students ranked Facebook as their favourite social media app compared with 94 per cent for Snapchat.

“Facebook is regarded as overcomplicated, overloaded with ads and irrelevant content and most importantly a place where their parents can find them. That might be why Snapchat and Instagram are taking over as the leading social platforms.”

Asked about video games, one in four students said they played regularly. The vast majority of regular players (70 per cent) are boys. They devote on average 1.2 hours per week night to games and three hours at weekends.

The most popular game for boys is Fortnite, a shooting-style game in which up to 100 people compete online. The Sims, a life simulation game, is the most popular among girls.