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From the beginning of the 2024 school year, Queensland state schools will be joining all other Australian states in putting away their mobile phones during school hours. So, what do you need to know, and how can you make the best of the situation?

Why are mobile phones away for students? 

Mobile phones help us to stay connected with family, friends and work. So, why not allow them in school? It is about finding a healthy balance. Being on devices during school time can be distracting and could affect your academic results, health and wellbeing.

Switching off your phone and putting it away for the day will help you to focus on learning. It will also increase face-to-face conversations between students and provide more time for offline activities.

Can I bring my phone and smart watch to school with me? 

You can bring your phone and smart watch to school but you won’t be able to use them during school hours – and yes, that includes break times. Some schools will ask you to leave your phone in a locker, while others may want it placed in your bag or a lockable pouch. If you’re not sure where you should store your phone, you can ask a teacher. You can still wear your smart watch, but notifications must be switched off and you may not send or receive messages.

What about when I need my phone for class? 

At some schools, teachers might give you permission to use your phone for learning. You might need to create a video of yourself performing music or practicing a technique in sport. Or, take pictures to make a portfolio of your work. At the end of the activity, your teacher will remind you to put the phone away again.

Which schools are affected? 

All state schools will be putting their phones away for the day. Private schools can set their own mobile phone use rules. If you are not sure what your school expects you can ask a teacher.

How can I adjust? 

Planning ahead is wise. List ways you use your phone, then consider alternatives. For example, make sure you arrange before school where to meet friends at lunchtime. If you use an app to keep track of homework, check for an alternative that will run on your laptop, or use it as an excuse to buy a new diary from your favourite shop.

Replacement activities

If you have a part-time job, you’ll already be used to putting your phone aside for several hours, but if not, you might feel some separation anxiety. Try a new activity, join a club, whatever takes your mind off it. Even if you don’t discover an unknown talent for debating or basketball, you will get to know new people, and have something interesting to talk about as well as creating new memories.

Check in with friends

Ever picked up your phone to check something, and looked up to realise that what felt like five minutes was actually an hour? Most of us have lost hours this way, and sometimes it means we’re not really present for those around us. Using some of the time freed up to check in with your friends is sure to lift your spirits and theirs.


Exemptions can be made available to access to your mobile phone or wearable device for learning, medical, disability and/or wellbeing reasons. If you need an app to monitor health, or if it features in a mental health safety plan, speak to your parents and school principal about processes for requesting an exemption.

More help

Most schools already have expectations about phones away for the school day. If yours hasn’t, it might take a while for the new mobile phones procedure in the classroom to feel normal. Try to keep an open mind while you get used to switching off your phone at school. Taking some positive steps will make it a better experience and help you to reduce the impact.

If the thought of putting your phone away at school is causing you stress, talk to a trusted teacher or school guidance officer. You can also talk one-on-one with trained counsellors through headspace.

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