In the 2023 SSTA survey, 71% of members highlighted that the misuse of mobile phones was having an impact on poor pupil behaviour and learning.

The SSTA Education Committee wanted to get further information on the use of mobile phones in school and commissioned a survey to find out members views. The survey took place in February 2024 with 1,451 members responding.

Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary said.

“92% of members said their lessons were being interrupted by asking pupils to put away their mobile phones. 13% of members said half their lessons were interrupted but more worryingly 75% said the majority to all their lessons were interrupted”.

When members were asked about their concerns of the inappropriate use of mobile phones during lessons members said

90%     pupils have detachment issues

90%     Texting during lessons

80%     Taking photos

60%     Social media bullying

46%     Answering calls during the lessons

41%     Viewing inappropriate content

35%     Live recording of lessons (audibly, visually, or both)

In addition, members gave other examples of misuse of mobile phones in lessons such as gaming, recording staff, listening to music, watching tv, contacting parents to make a complaint about staff, taking and hiding other people’s phones, anxiety (constantly checking), arranging meetings in corridors or toilets, use of snapchat or YouTube, cheating during tests, upskirting, videoing fights and bullying then sharing on social media, AI friends and online ‘dares’, etc.

When members were asked what strategies, they used to prevent the use of mobile phones in your class they reported that.

86%     Pupils were asked to put phones away

83%     Pupils were asked to put phone in school bags

67%     Phones placed on teachers’ desk if used in lesson

44%     Pupils were asked to put phone on silent

21%     Pupils asked to place phones into a box or doocot at start of lesson

In addition, members said the school confiscated the mobile phone, phones were sent to school office, messages were sent home to parents, demerits were issued, and whole school detentions were issued. However, these measures led to complications such as confrontation with pupils when they refuse to give phones up often with parental support, possibility of theft and claims made against school staff, and many pupils need their phones to pay for school lunch.

James Cowans, SSTA Education Convenor said

“62% of members saw the benefits of using mobile phones in helping with lessons. In many cases this was due to the lack of access to other mobile devices or poor connectivity within the school. 64% of members stated that wi-fi connection is variable to poor and 30% saying that they do not have access to a class set of mobile devices for use in their lessons”.

“72%, of schools have a mobile phones policy in place, to try and address issues but only 10% stated that the policy was extremely/very effective. Schools are struggling to implement successful mobile phone policies. There are several issues with implementing a policy such as inconsistency, legality, pupils conforming, no consequences, support from local authorities that need to be resolved”.

Seamus Searson added.

“It would appear that the benefits/advantages of using mobile phones are now outweighed by the negative impact that they are having on learning and teaching, behaviour, attainment and achievement. Only 37% of members support a complete ban of mobile phones in school, however, the majority would support a mobile phone ban from the classroom and other parts of the school”.

“Mobile phones are preventing teachers from teaching and creating problems for pupils that are on a scale many teachers and parents cannot imagine. The mobile phone is the most important possession to pupils and is taking over their lives and their futures. There needs to be a concerted effort from the Scottish Government, local authorities, schools working together with teachers, pupils and their parents to redress the balance of what is acceptable mobile phone use and its place in a young person’s life”.



SSTA Press Release - Mobile Survey 2024 - Summary.pdf