The UK: is the mobile phone ban in schools a good idea?
Schoolchildren in England will have to leave their mobile phones at home in future. The Conservative government has announced a blanket ban on mobile phones in schools in a bid to prevent distractions, disruptions and bullying. The response in the press is divided.
Less is more
The Sun welcomes the move, pointing out that mobile phone bans in schools have proved effective in many countries:
“Smartphones are a plague on children’s lives and stamping them out of schools is a great first step. We know that their use has been shown to damage concentration. A Unesco education monitoring report revealed that once a child is disturbed by a notification on their phone they can take up to 20 minutes to refocus on what they were doing before. ... Other studies looking at countries where mobiles are banned or restricted in schools, such as Malaysia, Singapore, France and parts of Spain, show that academic achievement increases.”
Outstanding performance requires analogue thinking
Zeit Online also applauds the ban:
“Schools should always be a protected space that provide a refuge from all the madness out there. A place where children are equipped for what comes later. And where today’s young people who have been digitally socialised from an early age are shown how it feels to live and think in an analogue way. ... Speaking of which: how many of the Nobel Prize winners who are being announced this week conducted their basic research, their groundbreaking forays into new patterns of thought and analysis, while being interrupted every 30 seconds by an email or stopping to check their Instagram timeline?”
British schools have far worse problems than smartphones, says The Guardian:
“The impact of smartphones on concentration, as well as the way they distract from real-life interactions and enable bullying, should be taken seriously. ... But the impact of the pandemic on children’s social skills, and the need for effective behaviour policies, are seen as higher priorities by those working in schools. The fact that this isn’t reflected more strongly by Ms Keegan is an indictment not just of her short tenure in the education department, but of the Conservatives’ poor overall approach to schools in England.”