How should we deal with mobile phones in school?

We could completely ban them – like French schools are doing from September. There is an interesting article here about how that should work (in theory).

“The use of a mobile telephone by a pupil is forbidden in elementary schools (écoles maternelles), primary schools and secondary schools (colleges) with the exception of certain places or certain conditions that are authorized by internal rules.”

This sounds quite reasonable and not too far from the requirement we have during lessons as phones should be on silent (or completely off) and in bags or lockers – unless under the explicit instruction of a member of staff that phone use is acceptable for a certain task or exercise. The school cafeteria is a no-device zone from 12h30 to 14h00.

No Device ZoneSome parents would welcome a complete ban on mobile phones in school. Some parents would be against such a ban as phones are a valuable link between parents and students in this busy world of after-school clubs and public transport use.

Smart phones can be incredible learning tools. The ability for a student to take a photo of an experiment or some notes on the board is powerful. Apps that turn smart phones into sensors taking advantages of the gyroscope and accelerometer in them puts scientific instruments in the hands of all (or at least most) and then these scientific instruments can be taken home! The ability to easily make videos and record audio clips can be built into engaging learning experiences. The use of smart phones as an integral part of classroom virtual reality and augmented reality experiences is truly amazing. Why just look at an image of a desert in a textbook when quickly and easily you can be having a brief VR experience capitalising on Google Cardboard technologies – standing in the desert describing why it is a difficult place to live.

Away for the day’ is an interesting approach from the makers of the film Screenagers – of which we have held several screenings in school and represents another approach to the situation.

We as a school do not require students to have smart phones. We have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ approach but the specification that the device has to have at least a 13 inch screen rules out most phones. The use of smart phones are an integral part of most people’s lives. The research suggests that the always on nature, the access to stimulating materials and a FOMO (fear of missing out) impacts upon the mental health of some young (and older…) people.

The situation is complex and requires a working and open partnership between teachers, parents and students. What do you think about the situation?

1 thought on “How should we deal with mobile phones in school?”

  1. The phone should only be put on after school is out – the reason we gave one to our daughter is to be able to contact her once school is finished, but definitely not to be used in school. I dont see what that should be a problem for any parent as it is just a distraction. If they want to do research, they all have their computers.

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