Government phone ban in schools includes during morning tea and lunch breaks

One thing that's not on the back-to-school checklist for Kiwis this year is a cellphone. 

It comes after the Government announced they would be banned from the classroom. 

However, that also includes a phone ban during morning tea and lunch breaks. 

Time is ticking to get back to school but TikTok and social media won't be in attendance. 

Despite the policy coming into place in Term 2, from Term 1 many schools will be implementing the Government's school phone ban. 

"Schools are required to have rules in place by 29 April 2024, but the expectation is that many schools will have these in place for Term 1," Minister of Education Erica Stanford said. 

"The policy states cellphones should be off and away all day," she highlighted. 

At Christchurch's Cashmere High students have never been able to have a cellphone in the classroom. 

But as part of the new blanket ban in schools, pupils now won't even be able to have them at morning tea or lunch. 

Students won't be allowed to use phones during morning tea and lunch breaks.
Students won't be allowed to use phones during morning tea and lunch breaks. Photo credit: Newshub

"It's not healthy for students to come to school and just to sit down and be glued to a digital device," Cashmere High School principal Joe Eccleton said.  

"I think it is important that they are moving about and they're getting fresh air, they're interacting with other people - they're communicating, they're developing those interpersonal skills that are so important in life." 

He and his staff will now have to police around 2300 pupils to make sure there are no phones in sight during the breaks. 

"If students do take their phones out they will be confiscated," Eccleton said. 

Kiwi kids were recently ranked 5th in the world for being distracted by digital devices. 

The Government says removing them is part of their immediate plan to lift student achievement. 

University of Auckland's Dr Samantha Marsh has studied the impact of screens on children and fully supports the new rules. 

"I think that schools are a place where kids go to learn and where they go to implement deep friendships," Dr Marsh said. 

"Even as a parent or adult we're not very good at ignoring our phone when it beeps so why do we think that kids aren't going to get distracted by their cellphone?"  

She believes removing smartphones from schools won't solve all the problems but admits it's "a really good start".

"It gives kids the opportunity for the seven or so hours a day to be kids again and to learn the skills that developing brains are meant to learn," Dr Marsh said. 

As part of her research, she's come across disturbing stories about children's phone addiction at home. 

"Boys not making it to the bathroom in time because they are so engaged in their game," she explained.  

"One parent talked about how her daughter hit her in the face when she tried to take her phone off her." 

With the expectation that most schools will be implementing the change from term 1, it means the new school year could look and feel a little more old-school.