Phones in school
📱In 2018, French schools banned phones in an attempt to detox children from an increasing addiction to screens. More than 90% of 12 to 17-year-olds are believed to own a mobile phone in France, and children were already banned from unauthorised use in class but, as in the UK, it was left to headteachers to decide whether to limit phones in breaktime.
“No phone use at school gives pupils a moment’s peace from social networks and some children tell us they appreciate that,” said the headteacher of La Gautrais middle school which banned the use of mobile phones in 2014. Headteacher Yves Koziel said “On social networks there’s an acceleration and extreme simplification of group relationships which can create conflict, even bullying. We’re freeing them from that – at least during the day.” Koziel said he was pleased to see children returning to “ordinary things”, such as chatting, games and breaktime clubs and activities including dance and knitting. “I think children are more available for social interaction when they’re obliged to really speak to each other,” he said.
Supporters of the ban cite research undertaken by the London School of Economics which shows that limited phone use in schools directly correlates to exam success, partly because of an increase in concentration. The same study also reported that “restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities”. Screen time can also reduce negative impact of social media which can lead to bullying.
Similar trials were also undertaken in America in the 2019/2020 school year where teens kept phones inside pouches, which they magnetically lock themselves. At the end of the day, they tap their pouches on magnetic unlocking stations located around the school. Whilst teens have already found hacks to unlock phones during the day, trials held in San Francisco worked well in terms of improving concentration and discouraging phone use throughout the day.