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France bans smartphones from its schools

 

AT the start of the new academic year in France on Monday, a nation­wide ban on mobile smartphones will be enforced in all of France’s schools. Smartphones had already been banned in primary and middle schools since 2010, but this will be the first time France will extend the ban to high schools.

Use of the phones will now be banned in and between classes and even during recess. Officials said they fear that excessive mobile phone use may fuel cyber-addiction, sleep disruption, and bullying. France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer acknowledged that mobile phones are a great technological advance but “they cannot monopolize our lives.” When he floated the idea on the ban last December, he note that “these days, the children don’t play at break time anymore; they are just in front of their smartphones and from the educational point of view, that’s a problem.”

Similar bans are enforced in a third of British schools and most Swedish schools, but Italy has reversed a ban it imposed some years ago; it is now encouraging the use of smartphones as learning devices. Israel banned cellphones from its classrooms in 2016. Australia has ordered a review on smartphones use in schools following parent concerns and the rise of cyber-bullying. Bans are enforced in some schools of the United States, notably in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California.

Here in the Philippines, the government has banned the use of cellphones only by vehicle drivers while moving in traffic and even when stopped at intersections. Elsewhere, they are not banned and so we have them in schools, in offices, in meetings, at work sites. Even while walking in streets, many people have their eyes on their smart phones, in danger of bumping into each other and even straying into vehicle traffic.

Parents around the world have voiced anxiety over the time many of their children spend glued to the small screens. They are concerned about the violent and pornographic content available in the phones. The action taken by France’s schools is the latest development.

At some point, our own schools in the Philippines may find a need to con­front the issue and take action on this growing 21st century problem.

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