This year Canberra Girls Grammar School has been carefully managing the use of smart technology, including phones, during school hours, in order to reiterate the importance of being present and focussing on the relational aspects of community learning throughout the school day.
For the students in our care, the introduction of bans, restrictions, constraints and rules are a double-edged sword.
It gives them boundaries, certainty, ritual and traditions and teaches them how to live in a community.
But at times, bans offer up a great source of irritation that children and adolescents rage against passionately.
Our message has been an extension of the expectations of our families and includes the role-modelling of good manners, giving people your full attention, and highlights the benefits of avoiding distraction through self-awareness and self-management.
These are not new concepts, but indicators of humanity that have stood the test of time.
Rather than look upon our Mobile Phone Management Policy as taking something away from our students, we see our policy as giving our students an opportunity to broaden their interpersonal skills.
Going without their devices during school hours will help develop social awareness, empathy, critical thinking, communication skills including speaking and listening, literacy and collaboration.
The spirit of discussion and robust debate is vital within a classroom. Not only does it give our students the opportunity to find their voice, but perhaps more importantly, listen attentively as their peers question, affirm and cross-examine each other and their educators.
The concentrated amount of time we spend with students is valuable and we are not needed to teach them how to engage over social media.
We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents who commended the sensible decision to manage children's access to digital distractions.
Families acknowledged that it made their efforts to regulate their children's device usage more constructive.
"Canberra Girls Grammar School has just extended consistency and support to our efforts at home to manage technology use," reported the parents of a Year 9 student.
"It helps a great deal for the views of others to align with those of [parents]," they said.
One thing that is clear, as noted in the opinion piece written by the Year 10 Daramalan student, Ella McCann, is that the management of our students' interactions with smart technology does not end with their phones.
With so many voices in the debate, it appears that no one person has the answer, but for now, this is where Canberra Girls Grammar School has landed and I look forward to the continuing conversation.
- Anna Owen is the Principal of Canberra Girls Grammar School in Deakin