Phone restrictions in school among actions BC government taking to keep kids safe
The BC government says it is moving forward with actions to keep kids and young people safe online.
Those actions include restricting the use of cellphones in schools, launching services to remove images from the internet and pursue predators, and creating legislation to hold social media companies accountable for the harms they have caused.
In a statement, BC’s office of the premier said studies have found children’s mental health and physical safety can suffer as a result of body-image distortion, cyberbullying, images shared without consent and disturbing instances of sextortion.
BC premier Dave Eby said “while cellphones, the internet and social media can help us connect with each other, they also present risk that can harm kids. The impact and influence of these tools is so great, and the corporations so powerful, it can be overwhelming for parents.”
The provincial government says it will work with school districts to ensure all schools have policies in place by the start of the next school year to be able to restrict students’ cellphone use in the classroom.
School District 19 superintendent Roberta Kubik told StokeFM there is currently a cellphone use policy in place for Revelstoke schools. The policy was in the process of being updated, but is currently on hold while district waits for further direction from the province.
“I think the most important piece here is that we do expect out kids to use cellphones in a way that’s safe and ethical and follows all the behaviour expectations that are set up in the schools,” said Kubik.
Recently, Screen Smart Revelstoke hosted a series of digital parenting talks at the Revelstoke Secondary School library. Presented by Scott Rothermel of Safer Schools Together, the three-part series covered topics ranging from video games to social media, sexting, sextortion and the age of consent.
“He’s a great presenter. He’s a human being when he presents and even talking about ‘here’s some mistakes I made as a parent and I’m in Safer Schools, I should know. But parenting is hard’,” said Kubik.
School trustee Wendy Rota said it’s important to educate the community and provide the tools for Revelstoke’s children and youth to make responsible decisions when it comes to using cellphones and social media.
“I think what Roberta and the district has been saying for the last two years I’ve been a trustee is, OK, where we’re kind of out of COVID [….] Now we need to make those steps forward and this is an area we definitely felt screen was the big part of COVID, we had to be on them for connections. But now we need to slow down again and really get that connection with our kids,” said Rota.
Kubik said students requiring use of their phones for accessibility related reasons will still be allowed to do so.