France Bans Smartphones And Tablets From Schools

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Smartphones and tablets have been banned from French classrooms in a bid to tackle smartphone addiction among young people.

This France-wide ban will apply to students under the age of 15, beginning as of the upcoming Autumn term.

As of September, all devices must be either left at home or turned off until the end of the school day. Exceptions may be made for students with disabilities, ‘pedagogical use’ or extra-curriculum activities.

Individual high schools will be given the decision whether or not to extend the ban to students who are over the age of 15.

The vote was decided in parliament yesterday, passing 62 votes to one, as part of campaign promise made by President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking on French news channel BFMTV, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said:

We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use […]

Our main role is to protect children and adolescents. It is a fundamental role of education, and this law allows it.

Those who support the bill believe it will help protect children and teenagers from becoming addicted to smartphone technology.

However, there are those who have opposed the bill; describing it as ‘cosmetic’ and a ‘publicity stunt’.

Others have pointed out how a law was already approved back in 2010 to prohibit smartphones ‘during all teaching activity’.

Alexis Corbière, a former teacher who is now a deputy for the Unbowed France party, has made the following comments according to CNN:

This isn’t a 21st century law in our eyes, but a law from the era of news channels and binary debate.

I don’t know a single teacher in this country that allows the use of phones in class.

This new bill has divided opinion all across the globe. Some people have praised Macron for removing the classroom distraction, while others see this as an unrealistic step backwards.

One person tweeted:

Well done Macron!!!

One weeks education time is wasted/year, due to pupils uncontrollable use of mobile phones during school work.

I wish ‘adults’ in Denmark had courage to follow the example of France. In the meantime, we keep wasting 1 week/year…..

However, another said:

For a government that wants to give access to digital for all, it’s contrary and it’s effect backwards…

But well, the day when there will be need for help and no one will have his phone, they will be happy, they will have a share of responsibility.

According to French regulator ARCEP, over 90 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds in France owned mobile phones in 2016. This was up from just 72 per cent as of 2005.

A 2015 study from the London School of Economics found smartphone bans in schools helped raise test scores among low-achieving students.

However, no significant impact was noted among high-achieving students.

Do you think this policy would work well in the UK? One thing is for certain, there will be a lot of grumpy French teenagers slamming their bedroom doors right about now…

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