In Term 1 the Middle School introduced a trial to encourage a more balanced approach to screen time throughout the school day. Middle School students were required to keep mobile phones in their lockers, and restrictions on gaming and technology free breaks were introduced. The trial lasted from August 2018 until the beginning of March 2019. At the end of the trial, staff and students provided feedback via a survey.
The survey results showed that staff at Sha Tin College are very supportive of these rules with 94% of teachers agreeing that the school feels more positive since the technology rules were introduced. As expected, there are more mixed opinions among the Middle School student body but many students commented that since the introduction of the rules, they felt more focused in lessons and have spent more time with friends at breaks.
After analysing the survey responses, conducting research and seeking advice from educational psychologists, the Middle School team has decided that it is in the best interests of the Middle School students to keep these rules in place. We want the College to provide an optimum learning environment for our students and the technology rules are one way of ensuring that students are using their break times in positive ways.
The rationale for this policy is as follows:
- There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that, while mobile phones have their many uses, there are also risks associated with excessive use. We think it is important for students to have balance in their lives and so we want to limit “screen time” at breaks and between lessons. We think it is important that students make the most of the many extra-curricular activities on offer at school and use the time at school to build friendships face to face.
- The age limit for most social media platforms is 13. We have found that many students of this age find it difficult to self regulate their use of social media and we feel that this policy will help to support the students in limiting their use of social media to more reasonable levels. Unfortunately, students are not always able to use social media responsibly and our guidance team spend a great deal of time dealing with friendship issues that arise from the use of social media. We would like our students to be able to thrive in a safe and happy environment and hope that the technology rules will help to promote that. We have found that the number of problems involving social media has dramatically reduced, since the introduction of the trial. However, we are aware that large numbers of students engage on social media platforms and so it is wise for parents to regularly check the content of your child’s communication, if they do have these accounts. We strongly advise that students of this age should be supervised whilst using technology. Research recommends no screen time an hour before bedtime as the blue light emitted tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime and getting to sleep becomes more difficult.
- We recognise that gaming can be an enjoyable activity for students but, again, we believe that students require supervision to ensure that they not doing this excessively or playing games which are not age appropriate.
We are of course a 1-1 laptop school and we believe that equipping students with technology skills is vital in the 21st Century. The purpose of these rules is to encourage students to approach the use of technology in a more controlled and measured way. Students will, in addition, continue to be taught how to use technology and handle social media responsibly during their GTS (Global Thinking Skills) lessons, in assemblies and in their tutor time programme.
As a school, it is vital that we teach children self-control, and so we feel that it is important that we have these rules to encourage students to have time away from their screens. Making the choice to leave their comfort zone and socialise with new students or join a new club can be challenging and it might be easier for some students to revert to spending breaktime on phones; as the adults we need to enforce these rules to help these students of a young age make better choices.
The technology rules for Middle School students are:
Technology Free Breaks on Tuesdays and Thursdays:
If students need to complete school work on their laptop they can use 237 or the Library.
The only place students can game is 237 on Monday and Wednesday break times. Students who wish to game need to sign in.
Mobile phones must be turned off and secured in students’ lockers from when students arrive in school until when they leave. (unless instructed by a teacher and are being used in a lesson) Mobile phones are not allowed in the corridors. (This rule is also for students in the Senior School) The corridors can get very busy and so looking at a phone whilst walking is against the schools’ health and safety policy. Students are not permitted to wear ear/headphones in corridors.
There are now consequences in place if students break these rules.
Please be reminded that it is vital that all students use a padlock to ensure that their locker is always secure. It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that their belongings are secured and not left unattended.
As students will not have access to their mobile phones, if they need to get in touch with family members during the school day they are welcome to use the phone in reception or use the Middle School office. If you need to contact your child urgently, then please contact the school office on: 26991811.
Here is the link to the presentation which was used in student assemblies. It provides some of the data from the recent survey as well as some recent research on this topic.
Last year we conducted a survey to find out about attitudes to technology and digital device management in our parent community. The results were shared in June 2018 but you might find it helpful to revisit the document which summarises the results of the parent survey. This also includes some guidance on the use of technology as well as some links to further reading on various themes we picked up in the survey, like gaming, screen time and monitoring. The summary document can be found here.