Ban the phones!?

The French have been cracking down on mobile phones in schools: as of this rentrée (back-to-school season), a new law fulfils French President Emmanuel Macron’s election promise, so you won’t see another phone in a French school…or will you? Actually, it’s not that simple – for some, not a lot will change.

There have been many column inches dedicated to the new ban on mobile phones in French schools that came into force this September. There is plenty to be said on both sides of the argument, much of which has already been said, so rather than re-hash that, I’ve collated some links for further reading below.

But this is just a quickfire blog post to issue a pedantic “Did you know?” as a bit of background to the debate, which is certainly relevant if we take the approach of “If it works in another country, then why not here”. The actual text of the law (see below) says that in early years settings, primary and lower secondaries (collèges), mobiles are banned, “except where the school expressly permits their use in specific circumstances (especially educational use) or locations”. And for the three final years of secondary education (lycées), the school doesn’t have to but “can” introduce a “total or partial” ban. So in fact, any school that still wants to allow mobiles at lunchtime, in the playground, or even in lessons when the teacher thinks it is appropriate, can do exactly that.

Screenshot from Legifrance, the office French government portal for state legislation

So whatever side of the debate you take (read more below if you want more), remember that the result of the new French law is greater support for schools which want a total ban, but plenty of scope for allowing it – and not only for educational reasons (news article / video – in French).

Here at LGfL TRUSTnet, we’re all about supporting schools to use tech better in the classroom and beyond, and that is the case for those which allow phones and those which don’t. We found that nearly 1 in 10 pupils find it hard to put down their device and have a break (see page 17 of our pupil survey report), and we will be looking at how we can further support schools, parents and pupils with tech addiction / detox over the coming months. It starts of course with the modelling of good behaviour by adults.

 

Links to opinion pieces for/against a UK ban on mobiles in schools:

Does banning smartphones in schools improve children’s development?‘ – Internet Matters article with expert views for and against (have you seen their new Back to School campaign?)

No, mobile phones should not be banned in UK schools‘ – article by Head of School of Education & Childhood Studies, University of Portsmouth

New statistics on parents who want a school ban vs those who still want their children to have their phone – from new Internet Matters research

10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12‘ from Huffington Post

Banning kids from having smartphones misses the point LSE response to the above article