Po Leung Kuk Ho Yuk Ching (1984) College (PLK) defeated St Stephen's Church College (SSCC) in the third round of division two of the 15th Nesta- SCMP debating competition.
The schools debated the motion: "Smartphones do more harm than good for secondary school students in Hong Kong."
Debaters from SSCC, Iris Kong Yuk-ying, Claudia Fung Sau-ngan and Forrest Ng, all Form Five students, agreed with the motion. Speakers from PLK, Max Luk Man-wai, Sam Cheung Chun-wing and Jeffery Ng - also from Form Five - opposed it.
The debate was judged by Tanya Kempston, lecturer from the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong.
The SSCC said students could become addicted to their mobile phones. Therefore, the devices could be a big distraction for students, and make it harder for them to study. Also, they would be uncomfortable with face-to-face interaction after "chatting" on their phones for a long time, SSCC said.
PLK disagreed, saying it is up to individuals to use smartphones responsibly.
They pointed out that studies have shown that owning a mobile device can improve academic results. Smartphones provide a platform for students to learn wherever they are and whenever they want.
In a tight contest, the judge decided that PLK's argument against the motion had the edge. She said the team did a better job drawing on their personal experiences to support the argument.
"Both teams made a good effort in pinpointing what the motion is about: secondary school [students] using mobile phones," said Kempston.
"The [side in agreement] did a great job presenting academic research to support their point of view. But as secondary school students, they would have sounded more persuasive if they drew on their own experience of being distracted from school work by their mobile phones," said Kempston.
Both teams earned praise from the judge for their persuasive arguments. "Debaters asked rhetorical questions to persuade the audience. This was a high-quality debate. Both sides engaged instead of just presenting their material," she said.
"Both sides responded well to the other's argument. They were able to think on their feet and were opposed to simply following their prepared script."
It is common for debaters to use note cards when giving their speeches. Kempston advised speakers to only use bullet points, instead of writing their entire script on the note cards.
"It is important to build a relationship with the audience through eye contact when giving speeches. Speakers should not pay too much attention to their note cards," she said.
The contest, which is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, was held on Tuesday at St Stephen's Church College in Pok Fu Lam.