Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Screen fixation sees Taranaki high school switch off Wi-Fi at interval and lunchtime

School pupils are being made to unplug from the internet and talk to each other.  Photo / File
School pupils are being made to unplug from the internet and talk to each other. Photo / File

A Taranaki high school is turning off its internet during breaks to force students off their screens to talk to each other.

Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth has started term one with a new rule governing Wi-Fi access in a radical measure to get pupils away from digital devices for at least 45 minutes a day.

In the Catholic college's latest newsletter principal Martin Chamberlain has announced that the college is cutting the internet to pupils during interval and lunchtime for their own good.

The college provides campus-wide wireless internet to help with student learning. It is also free for communication and recreational use.

But Chamberlain said this had led to a small number of pupils being glued to their devices.

"At break times, however, our observation of screen fixation among some students has led to our decision to switch off the internet for 15 minutes at interval and 30 minutes at lunchtime.

"Despite many having their own internet plan and some games being stored on-phone, this should encourage more of the radical practice of face-to-face conversation!" he wrote.

Chamberlain told the Herald the issue of constant device use was not necessarily healthy for mind or body and pupils needed to learn how to take a break.

"We certainly see the merits of cellphones in the school for learning and education but we also like the old fashioned notion of face-to-face communication," he said.

It was early days, but there had not been any violent kickback from pupils and everyone seemed to accept the situation.

- NZ Herald

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