Children's Health

Viral violence feeds school bullies' buzz, experts warn

They are the schoolyard squabbles gone viral, earning students widespread notoriety with the flick of a finger.

And now psychologists are warning the abundance of cell phones in schools only encourages children to act up—and the devices should be banned.

Experts are concerned by a worrying trend of students filming arranged fights and sending threatening or inappropriate images of each other on their phones.

In one instance, 13 boys from a single school in Australia were suspended after being caught planning punch-ups and recording the action.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Darryl Cross said there was no doubt some students were playing up to the cameras in a bid to impress their peers.

"Students will do things in front of peers if they think they will gain notoriety," he said. "Mobile [cell] phones only increase the chance of that happening."

Filming the fights just added to the student's "buzz," Cross said. "They get one buzz out of the public viewing and another quite significant buzz if it's recorded. It can be shared and watched over and over so it means there is an ongoing buzz," he added.

He said there was no benefit in students having cell phones with them during school hours, and instead the devices should be dropped off at the start of the school day and picked up when it was time to go home.

Child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg said students should have to sit a test to show they can use phones responsibly and are aware of potential legal implications of misuse.

An online poll by The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph showed 94 percent of respondents in favor of banning cell phones at school.

Click for more from The Daily Telegraph.