Yes, yes and yes!

This article is from the July 2 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe for $4.50 a week, visit

A failure from many parents and schools to directly encourage responsible behaviour in students, except possibly for a few platitudes, has promoted an increase in cyber-bullying . Children of all ages fail to see the longterm effects of their behaviour for themselves and need explicit teaching in responsible digital citizenship (‘‘ Smartphones drive latest wave of cyberbullying’’ , June 30-July 1).

Rather than acknowledging the positives of smartphone use (the ease of the hand-held smartphones for necessary research, online collaboration within and between classrooms and ultimately facilitating learning ), many schools choose to ban the device and a dynamic learning tool is lost, as well as possible valuable instructional time in responsible e-behaviour .

In Britain students are constantly drilled from an early age in digital literacy and the associated problems. Practices, such as the S.M.A.R.T policy (Stay safe, no meeting, no accepting emails, ensuring reliability of sites and tell somebody) enable responsible e-behaviour by enabling strategic teaching on the issue. It is the only responsible way forward.

It is time smartphones come out of the pockets and under the desks and are placed on the desks for appropriate use, where digital citizenship can be taught openly and honestly.

Masking the problem with futile bans is merely disabling our children.

Janice Creenaune Austinmer

Copyright © 2012 The Sydney Morning Herald