In a tech-saturated world, schools are being forced to move away from the age-old pen and paper to the 21st century 'device', but it doesn't come without its pitfalls.

While schools understand the benefits and use the tool to enhance their students' education, they have been tasked with having to negotiate cyber bullying and distraction.

It is not 'one size fits all' and the policies implemented vary from each institution.

St John's College pupils are only permitted to use their devices during class time when needed.

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Principal Paul Melloy said while it is "pretty strict", it means the boys are out playing sport and interacting with each other at lunchtime rather than "being locked away in a world of their own in a device".

"In terms of our devices, we are very proactive, we encourage the use, we know it as a tool for educational research and support. It is not the answer to educational problems or certainly not the answer to pedagogy.

"It's like the old library used to be but it happens to be in their hands. It is a research engine."

They are planning to switch off their internet access during school breaks to ensure no student can use their devices.

"If they are caught using their devices during lunchtime or morning break they're taken off them and their parents are notified and they're given back at the appropriate time."

While in class, teachers tend to sit at the back of the class, rather than at the front so they can see the devices and the pages the boys are on.

Tamatea High School principal Robin Fabish said their rule at school is that phones are away in bags or pockets unless the teacher says they can be used.

"This has reduced the distraction in class and helped learning. I'd like to think our seniors who are more mature can self regulate, but even that requires teacher support sometimes.

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"Philosophically, I like the idea of students being able to use digital devices in the classroom and learning to self manage the distraction that social media represents because that's what they need for tertiary study and the workforce. However, this is very difficult for some adults, let alone students."

Head girl Mikaylah Selby believes devices are an important part of schooling life and can enhance their learning.

However, she said it was really easy to be distracted by other pop-ups and websites.

Taradale High School has a more open approach, where students are able to use their devices during class time and breaks. They are only permitted to use their phone during class time if they ask the teacher and don't have a laptop.

Principal and Hawke's Bay Secondary Principals' Association chairman Stephen Hensman said their thinking with phones was to prepare them for when they get into the workforce and had to use self-discipline.

"Families rely upon their sons and daughters being able to contact them either by text or phone call so we have always felt that we shouldn't ban students from having their cellphones at school."

This year they introduced software which enable teachers to limit students from accessing certain sites and direct them to others. It also has the ability for a teacher to individually monitor a student's access.

"I think what schools are finding and what we have found is that we have got to be careful to ensure we are using devices for those areas for which they are superior to hand-writing and textbooks."

Known as "blended learning", it enable schools to use old-school methods for areas devices are not suitable and vice versa.