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Technology Integration into school and the effects on children's health and wellbeing

The Technological Age by Karen Elzinga 7/06/2018

The modern era has seen fast paced changes to the technology arena, and with the introductions of new and exciting equipment advances, apps, programs and the online world, it was only a matter of time before these technological fields encroached into schools and classrooms. Whilst technology is brilliant in theory, there is a darker side of how they are impacting children, and how schools are introducing and changing policies to keep up to date. One avenue that will be explored in this paper is the National Safe Schools Framework, and how it is aiding schools in their development within the creative and technological space. Mobile phone use, cyber bullying and student health and well being issues, will also be explored in the context of use by grade 5 students, from middle class regional areas.

The National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF) is a document derived from input from key stake holders. In developing individual processes and policies, the student well being hub was developed to provide schools with the basis for how to implement changes, or introduce key policies based on collaborative processes, that take in student health, safety and well being (National Safe Schools Framework, 2017).

Belonging to an environment is incredibly important for student connection to a school both academically and socially. Students need to feel accepted for their diversity, supported in their needs and respected for what they contribute and achieve. Element 2 of the NSSF looks at student connectedness with their environment, it takes in relationships, inclusiveness and recognition (National Safe Schools Framework, 2017).

With a desire to be included in the tech savvy social media space, many primary aged children join social media websites or apps before they are meet minimum age requirements of 13 years. As a result young children are often thrust into more adult worlds where the realms of cyber bullying exist. This is cause for concern because young children simply do not have the necessary coping skills, social skills, life skills or knowledge to understand the online world, or who they maybe speaking or interacting with online (Boustead, n.d.).

Cyber bullying is an unfortunate part of school life and the online environment. It has led to the suicidal deaths of many young people who have been tormented to the brink sometimes by complete strangers (No Bullying, 2107). According to a study commissioned by the federal government, and conducted by Professor Donna Cross representing the Edith Cowan University, concluded that approximately 10% of children felt they had been the victim of cyber bullying (Dikeos, 2009). This number has risen extensively since this study was commissioned  however, and in 2017 the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) reports statistical data to the effect of 1 in 7 children now reporting cyber bullying (National Centre Against Bullying, 2017).

As part of the NSSF website extensions/links via the Student Wellbeing Hub it grants access to policies and proactive developments by the Queensland Government Department of Education and Training. One such program aimed at children is a group of educators called the "Cyber Safety and Reputation Management Team. This teams travels to schools to do educational presentations to students about how to stay safe in the online world, appropriate online technologies, cyber bullying and what can be done about it, and the use of online etiquette. They ask questions about being a digital citizen, and leaving a digital footprint. As well as in school visits they also provide a stimulating and thought provoking visual presentation, that educators can access and play to students at their leisure. This is a very powerful insight to online technologies, apps and the pitfalls associated such as cyber bullying. This is a very beneficial program that works effectively with in schools, and class teacher education programs. Its works with the visual use of cartoon characters, its age targeted to primary school students, and because of its interactive nature, it pauses periodically after asking questions, so that class teachers can receive student feedback to cement learning (Boustead, n.d.).

Element 8.2- Early Intervention and Targeted Support of the NSSF deals with early intervention of students having difficulties with peers, or whom are developing anti-social behaviour (SCSEEC, 2010). Programs like that of the Cyber Safety and Reputation Management Team, may be an instrumental tool in aiding these types of social difficulties by arming children with the necessary skills and education, on what to do to stay safe in the online world (Boustead, n.d.). 

Chancellor State College in Queensland has a whole PDF presentation that students, teachers and parents can access to learn about how to combat cyber bullying on their website. The document produced by the State of Queensland (Department of Education and Training) in 2016, offers a friendly, visual and informative PDF about interacting on social media. It delves into responsible use, use of privacy settings on social media and devices, home filtering of internet programs, reporting bad or offensive content as well as a host of online and cyber bullying awareness issues, designed to keep children safe and their well being intact (Queensland Government, 2016).

3.4 of the National Safe Schools framework (NSSF) address the needs of schools to have formal technology usage agreements set in place. This aims to provide students with a clear understanding of websites unsuitable or not related to school or educational activities (National Safe Schools Framework, 2017).

Formal technology agreements are done by many schools across Queensland, including Marymount Primary School and Chancellor State College (Primary campus), who share very similar policy outlines. They both have a written contract enforceable by the school, which requires both the student and their parent's signatures recognising that they understand, and agree to the confinements of the schools policy and procedures. Some of the rules are that the school has the permission to monitor the flow of any information including emails, visited websites, created files or computer created accounts by any student. Students must also agree to only visiting educational websites consistent with their class learning, and that failure to do so can relate to loss of privileges (Marymount Primary School, n.d.), (Chancellor State College, 2017).

Chancellor State College on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland also has a policy for all mobile and electrical devices brought to school by students. This is an independent document placed on their website for complete and easy referral by teachers, parents and citizens. For their primary campus and including grade 5 students with a background of students living in a regional location, with an average middle class demographic of students attending, this document outlines the do's and don'ts (Chancellor State College, 2017).

They utilize key word language such as "appropriate use" and "consequences" for misuse of mobile and digital equipment, words that children would often hear teachers referring to.  They refer to four levels of consequential actions when students are caught with switched on mobile phones in class time. For first time offences phones are confiscated and a slip is provided for collection at the end of the day. The second offence is the same as 1st offence with the addition of a warning, that the student if caught again will have to speak with the deputy principal. Third offence students get their phone confiscated, and must speak to the deputy principal, before being able to retrieve their phone. The deputy principal also explains that further misuse may result in detentions, and that parents may be required to pick up the phone or device in future. For the fourth and final consequence, it defines parental engagement, where parents must pick up the phone, and are advised that the student maybe placed into detention, or withdrawal from classroom activities in the advent of further disruptions to class from mobile or digital device activity (Chancellor State College, 2017). 

On a website linked to the NSSF called Kids Matter, there is a plethora of information about the health and wellbeing of children, in fact over 100 links to information about body image, problem solving, bully prevention, building positive skills and loads more topics. This provides a valuable link to documents that schools and the general public can access to improve their school curriculum or family life structures (kids Matter, n.d.). The Queensland government also has a website targeting schools and providing its own information on the health and wellbeing of children, and how to support the needs of students from suicide prevention, curriculum and pedagogy, school expectations and policy application. These documents are invaluable to schools as they provide a guide for schools to follow and implement new policies or update existing ones, whilst keeping a fresh of any new developments within the research of child development (Queensland Government Department of Education and Training, 2017).

In conclusion it would seem that the NSSF is an extremely good framework that provides beneficial help and support to schools. It saves educational administrators, teachers, parents and communities countless hours of research time, whilst providing up to date research into child health, safety, well being and development. It is clear that the NSSF and the ease of the Student Well Being Hub has had an enormous impact, just due to the number of affiliated links, joining various research material, and curriculum policy ideas and pointers. It is a fantastic initiative that will see many students benefit long into the future, with safer and more adequate policies and procedures to cater for the modern technological age.

References

Australian Government Education and Training. (2017). National Safe School Framework. Retrieved from https://www.education.gov.au/n...

Boustead, B. (n.d.) Department of Education and training, Your Digital Footprint. Retrieved from https://mediasite.eq.edu.au/me...

Buderim Mountain State School. (2012). Mobile Phone Policy. Retrieved fromhttps://budemounss.eq.edu.au/S...

Chancellor State College. (2017). Mobile Phones and other Electrical Devices. Retrieved from Policyhttps://chancellorsc.eq.edu.au...

Chancellor State College. (2017). Bring your own Device (Laptops) Information and Procedures Handbook. Retrieved from https://chancellorsc.eq.edu.au...

Dikeos, T. (2009). Teens death highlights cyber bullying. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/200...

Marymount Primary School. (n.d.). Marymount Primary School Network Usage Agreement. Retrieved from http://www.marymountprimary.ql...

National Centre against Bullying. (2017). Bullying in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.ncab.org.au/

Kids Matter Australian Primary Schools Mental Health Initiative. (n.d.). Kids Matter Primary Programs. Retrieved from https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/...

National Safe School Framework. (2017). Student Well Being Hub. Retrieved from https://www.studentwellbeinghu...

No Bullying-The Worlds Authority on Bullying. (2017). Bullying and Suicide Statistics in US, Australia and New Zealand. Retrieved from https://nobullying.com/suicide...

SCSEEC. (2010). National Safe School Framework. Retrieved from https://studentwellbeinghub.ed...

Queensland Government Department of Education and Training. (2017). Supporting Student Health and Wellbeing Policy Statement. Retrieved from http://education.qld.gov.au/sc...

 

Queensland Government Department of Education and Training. (2016). Online Awareness-Information for parents and caregivers. Retrieved from https://chancellorsc.eq.edu.au...

 



 

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