Kids everywhere are hooked to their phones — and one country is trying to put a stop to it. On Dec. 10, France’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced that the country will ban mobile phones in schools beginning Sept. 2018.
The use of cell phones is already prohibited inside primary and secondary classrooms in France. Although kids will still be allowed to bring the phones on campus, the new ban means students at all schools will no longer be able to use them on breaks, at lunch or between lessons.
This mobile phone ban is raising questions about the practicality of its enforcement, even from France’s headteachers’ union. However, the French government promised everything will get sorted out.
“We are examining the question, the ban could work in a number of ways,” Blanquer told France 24. “Mobile phones might be needed for educational purposes or in an emergency, so it is important that their use is restricted.”
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Blanquer said the decision was motivated to improve education and social skills among kids.
“These days, the children don’t play at break time anymore,” Blanquer said, according to the Local, an English-language publication. “They are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view, that’s a problem.” He also suggested that banning phones may be effective in cutting down on cyberbullying.
As for whether banning cell phones will have any measurable effect on students’ performance, a 2015 study indicated that test scores improved by as much as six percent in British schools with strict bans on cell phones.
“We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days,” according to the study’s authors.
Stateside, enforcing a lasting ban on cell phones in school has proved more difficult. In 2015, the Department of Education lifted the decade-long ban on cell phones in New York City public schools and allowed principals to make their own rules at each school. Since then, an analysis by the New York Post found that cyberbullying has increased 351 percent.
Nationally, policies vary widely. “I really don’t see a consensus,” Elizabeth Englander, a professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, told The Washington Post. “Nobody really knows what to do. I think everybody’s trying out different things and seeing how they work.”
What do you think? Should there be an all-out ban on cell phones in schools, or should schools make decisions on a case-by-case basis?