SENIOR staff at a grammar school have voiced concerns about the safety and mental health of pupils due to gaming addiction.

Poole Grammar school has introduced a new mobile phone policy warning that teenagers need to learn how to use the devices responsibly for the sake of their health.

A survey of boys and staff carried out last term revealed some students are playing games before school, on the journey to school, before the start of the school day, at break, lunch, on the way home and for most of the evening.

“Clearly there are serious issues regarding their physical and mental health which in turn directly impacts on both their capacity to learn and results in a lack of engagement with their peers in the real world” said Keith McDonald, deputy head teacher and designated safeguarding lead. “The feedback about the amount of time that some of our students are spending on devices is a major worry.”

A member of staff who took part in the survey added: “As a school we have a job to educate young people and part of this education must be how best to use phones in a responsible manner. If we ban phones completely we are ignoring our responsibility as educators.

“Whether we like it or not, phones, and technology in general, will play a big part of our students’ lives. We need to acknowledge this and help them wherever possible, not kick this issue into the long grass and leave others to deal with it.”

The new rules means boys in Years 9-13, aged 13-18, will be banned from using phones for gaming and social media throughout the school day in the school buildings. They can use them outside to text or call parents about any changes in arrangements.

They are also allowed to use phones in lessons when teachers can see an educational use for doing so.

Boys in Years 7 and 8, aged 11-13, will not be allowed smartphones at all.

“Students of this age should not be accessing social media platforms anyway. Their whole focus in the early years at secondary school should be on studying and socialising with their peers” said Mr McDonald.