Old School Media Regulation

Going back 3 years, back into high school days, media regulation was the bane of my school life existence. What do you mean I can’t use my phone in class? Why won’t these laptops let me check my Facebook? Are you trying to kill my social life?!

Tad dramatic but this was what it was like in high school. For 6 hours a day, 5 times a week, mobile phone and media use for social purposes was avoided due to fear of confiscation and detention. During high school, each student owned a school-issued laptop, however during school hours it was strictly for educational and research purposes. This was regulated by teacher supervision as well as all gaming sites and social media platforms blocked on the school server. Thus, students often resorted to using their phones, however never in the sight of a teacher as they would likely confiscate it until the end of the day.

Social anxieties or moral concerns that aid the argument to regulate media use in school include privacy issues among students and teachers, the ability to film on school grounds and upload to social media/youtube and  inappropriate web searches. In terms of space and place, it is obvious that schools set these media regulations due to  concerns that students will become distracted on these devices and this will negatively impact their education.

Research from the UK shows the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. The study involved surveying schools in four cities in England about their mobile phone policies since 2001 and combining it with student achievement data from externally marked national exams (Beland & Murphy, 2015). Results found that “low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones, while high achievers can focus in the classroom regardless of whether phones are present. Given heterogeneous results, banning mobile phones could be a low-cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality” (Beland & Murphy 2015, p.17)

In Australia, schools are given responsibility to create their own media policies. Whilst most are anti-mobile, Christian Brothers’ College in St Kilda East is one example of a school who overturned it’s ban on mobile phone usage. Whilst students are only to use them when given permission, and still not to be used at recess or lunchtime, students are finding them helpful to take photos of notes in class (Topsfield, J 2011).

Overall I think its inevitable to successfully regulate entire media use in schools particularly today with increased access to new technologies such as proxies and mobile devices. It shouldn’t be ignored that mobile phones could be a useful learning tool if their use is properly structured.


Beland, L & Murphy, R 2015, Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance, The London School of Economics and Political Science, viewed 26 September 2016 <http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1350.pdf&gt;

Topsfield, J 2011, ‘School principal answers call to ditch mobile phone ban,’ The Sydney Morning Herald‘ May 30, viewed 26 September 2016 <http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/school-principal-answers-call-to-ditch-mobile-phone-ban-20110529-1faxl.html&gt;

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