Should Mobile Phones Be Banned At School?
Following on from our recent post about Phone Free Fridays, we thought we’d take a look at whether or not schools should completely ban mobile phones. Back in February, Nick Gibb made the case that schools should ban mobile phones. Let’s take a look at his argument.
The schools minister said that mobile phones should be banned from classrooms, and young people should be made aware of the dangers of device dependency. He went on to say that he was concerned about how mobile phone use was effecting children. At the same time, he pledged that the government would introduce lessons to children on how to manage their screen time. Expanding on this, he added:
Schools obviously are free to set their own behaviour policies but my own view is that schools should ban mobile telephones and smartphones inside school. Particularly inside classrooms. I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own use at home. Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it’s an hour less exercise and it’s an hour less sleep. And of course it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child’s mental health.
Studies on Mobile Phone Use
Just weeks before this statement, an Oxford University study confirmed something rather interesting. It determined that using electronic devices was no worse for teenagers’ mental health than eating more potatoes. Data on more than 300,000 adolescents in both America and the UK was looked at. The study was to ascertain what impact various factors had on wellbeing.
In 2018, Rutgers University in the USA ascertained that students’ scores were half a grade lower than their counterparts when allowed to use their devices for non-academic reasons in class.
Chief Medical Advisor Dame Sally Davies has said that children will be advised to break away from devices every two hours, and to not use social media before bedtime. Parents will be advised to limit their children’ screen time to protect their health.
If the UK were to introduce a mobile phone ban in schools, we’d be following our European counterparts’ example. When French students returned from the summer holiday last year, they were told to leave mobile phones at home.
Mr Gibb is the latest in a long line of senior education figures to support the potential ban. Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of OFSTED has also said that devices disrupt lessons. At last year’s Festival of Education at Wellington College he said:
It’s interesting that President Macron is now bringing in legislation in France to ban mobile phones in state schools. We should do the same here. It’s far too distracting for children having mobile phones. Texting, sexting, all this takes place. Mobile phones go off in classrooms disrupting lessons. Ban them. If children want to use a phone in an emergency they can use the school phone.
So, what do you think? We’d love to hear the teachers’ prerogative. Do mobile phones disrupt your lessons? How does your school handle them? Let us know in the comments!