Away for The Day!

“Away for the Day: The Impact of Mobile Phone Policies on the Social and Emotional Well-Being, and Development of Verbal Communication Skills in British Columbian High School Students.”

Over the past two years I have been completing a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Exeter, UK.

Since embarking upon my teaching career in 2010, I have witnessed a rapid rise in the use of digital technologies, particularly mobile phones in the classroom. Whilst I believe myself to be a pioneer in the use of such technologies, and wholeheartedly see and reap the benefits of their use in lessons, I have also observed a disturbing trend where young learners are becoming increasingly addicted to their devices at the expense of face-to-face interaction with their peers. On multiple occasions, I have stumbled over student bodies lining the corridors at break and lunchtime who are glued to their mobile devices.

This is what made accepting my current job role in 2019 all the more appealing. In 2018 my employer decided to adopt an Away for the Day policy regarding the use of personal mobile phones, where students were prohibited from using their mobile phones during the hours of instruction from the beginning of the school day 0800 to the end of lessons at 1515. This was the first time in many years that I witnessed students engaging in conversation, playing board and card games, and participating in physical outdoor activities during their break and lunchtimes, as well as not being distracted by social media during lessons.

This led me to ponder the issue: “Is a student’s increasing online presence decreasing real-world satisfaction and positive peer-to-peer interaction?” I subsequently decided to investigate this issue as my dissertation, the abstract for which you can read below.


The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of mobile phone policies on the social and emotional well-being, and development of verbal communication skills in British Columbian high school students, from the unique perspective of the student. First, secondary data from a cross-sectional study; the 2018 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey, was analysed in order to both inform, and provide context for, the primary dataset. This survey was completed by 38,015 high school students across 840 schools in 58 school districts in BC. Second, an online survey was designed and distributed to six independent schools that adopted Away for the Day (AftD) policies. This survey aimed to capture student perceptions of the impact of these AftD policies, and was completed by 504 respondents from Grades 6-12. Results derived from the secondary data indicated that there was a negative correlation between time spent on social media and the social and emotional well-being of student; a finding which was corroborated by the primary data. Furthermore, results from the primary data indicate that AftD policies have many positive impacts on student social and emotional well-being, and the development of verbal communication skills. Understanding student perceptions concerning the impacts of AftD policies may provide valuable information which school leaders can use in order to inform the use of similar policies in the future.

Full Dissertation

If you would like access to a PDF copy of the full dissertation and results then please contact me at:

External Resources

If you are interested in finding out more about the Away for the Day Project, or more of founder’s (Delaney Ruston) work, then please visit the following websites:

Away for the Day


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