Mobile phone ban in all government primary schools
Mobile phones will be banned in every NSW public primary school in the most dramatic intervention in the use of technology by children in the country.
Under the plan, high schools will also be given the choice to adopt a full-scale ban or simply choose measures to restrict the use of phones during school hours.
In primary school students will be allowed to bring phones to school but they will be confiscated during school hours, either put in lockers or left with teachers, until the end of the day.
News Corp Australia can reveal an expert panel has told the state government the phones pose too much risk for young children, amid rising cases of online bullying, sharing sexually explicit images and predatory behaviour from strangers.
Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg was appointed by the state government six months ago to lead a landmark review of phones in schools and provide advice on the issue.
Primary schools currently ban phones on an ad hoc basis but Dr Carr-Gregg said they had a "duty of care" to implement the new policy to protect their students from the risks phones pose to their mental health.
"I'm really worried about the stress a lot of these kids are already under," he said.
"It's very clear that the vast majority of young people who end their life have a mental health problem, particularly depression.
"So anything we can do to reduce depression, to reduce stress and anxiety in young people we should do and all schools have a duty of care to provide students with a safe environment in which to learn.
"We believe a prohibition of smart phones in primary school will absolutely create a safer environment for kids to learn in … and therefore improve their mental health."
He said if parents want their young child to have a phone, it should not have a camera or internet access.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said technology must be "an enabler not a detractor".
"Distraction and bullying have always been issues for schools to deal with but mobile phones present a new challenge for schools, teachers, parents and students," she said.
Education Minister Rob Stokes said the government had always been focused on wanting to balance the "risk" and "reward" of using smart phones in the classroom.
For high schools, Dr Carr-Gregg favours banning phones for students in years 7 to 10 and strictly limiting access for those in years 11 and 12.