A new legislation has been passed in France that prohibits the use of mobile phones in the classroom, in a move by the government aimed at combatting distraction and cases of online bullying.
The law will apply to primary and middle school pupils. Those aged 15 and over attending high school will be subject to rules at the discretion of the school itself. General exceptions to the rule will be applied to disabled children and in cases of emergency.
In France, more than 90% of 12 to 17-year-olds own mobile phones and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has previously been concerned with the ever-increasing use of the devices at school.
“These days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view, that’s a problem,” he said while announcing the plans in December 2017.
In addition to the distractive elements of mobile phone use, the devices are increasingly used for cyberbullying.
Research conducted by the UK’s Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help keep children safe online, shows that eight out of 10 respondents were concerned about cyberbullying and 68% of parents surveyed were worried that their children would feel under pressure for having to have the latest device.
Our research revealed that 8/10 Parents of Year 7 pupils said they were concerned about cyberbullying – See our back to school guide to support your child as they head back to school #DigitalWellbeing #ThinkAboutIt https://t.co/e8AGY1t0Cd pic.twitter.com/NSdMTdliLD
— Internet Matters (@IM_org) September 4, 2018
Dr Tamasine Preece, an expert panel member at Internet Matters, thinks the rest of Europe should follow suit.
“Smartphones offer known distractions such as gaming, updating social media and sending and receiving messages but also in terms of making the user readily available to provide support or distraction,” she said.
“Banning smartphones would take the very great pressure off children to act impulsively and participate in behaviours, many of which have dire consequences in terms of reputation, school sanctions or destroying personal relationships, in which they would not, given the time and space to reflect, usually take part.”