Alberta Introduces New Standards to Limit Mobile Device Use in Classrooms

by Staff

To safeguard student mental health and reduce distractions, Alberta will implement new standards limiting personal mobile devices and social media use in classrooms starting September 1. Feedback from more than 68,000 parents, teachers, and students revealed concerns about the negative impact of these technologies on student achievement and well-being. Exceptions will be made for health and educational purposes. School authorities will develop policies reflecting provincial standards while maintaining flexibility to meet community needs.

“Parents, teachers, students and our education partners were clear that the use of personal mobile devices and social media in the classroom was of concern. We’re taking a measured approach to protect students by restricting the use of personal mobile devices during instructional time to reduce distractions and bullying, maximize learning time and support student mental health,” said Minister of Education Demetrios Nicolaides in a media release Monday.

Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling said the ATA supports the move. “The ATA is pleased to see that the government’s direction reflects ATA policy in keeping students focused on their learning while balancing situations when technology can be used to meet medical and learning needs or outcomes. Teachers and school leaders look forward to having the support of government and school boards as they implement this new policy.”

Under the new standards, school authorities will implement locally developed policies and procedures for the use of personal mobile devices and social media in their schools. However, those policies must reflect provincial standards while allowing areas of autonomy and flexibility to meet the unique needs.

Alberta Education engaged with students, parents and education partners and received 68,000 responses, 90 per cent of which shared concern over student cellphone use at school.

Alberta NDP Critic for Education Amanda Chapman acknowledged the issue of cell phones in schools and how prolific their usage has become.

“We are cautiously optimistic that a ban will be balanced with the needs of parents and educators to make the most of the incredible opportunities of technology while also focusing students on learning in the classroom,” Chapman said. “What we have not seen from the government today is a commitment that students will learn about digital literacy. Learning about a healthy relationship with social media, for instance, could be very beneficial to the wellbeing of all students.”

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have all announced provincewide restrictions or bans on cellphone use in schools in recent years, with certain exceptions in place.


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