• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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UK joins Nigeria, others with ban on smartphones in schools

UK bans smartphones in schools

The UK government has banned the use of smartphones in all schools in the country to minimize disruption and improve behaviour in classrooms.

The decision accompanies concerns about online bullying, distraction, and classroom disruption associated with mobile phone use leading to loss of learning time.

The latest government data found that 29% of secondary school pupils reported mobile phones being used when they were not supposed to.

“Schools are places for children to learn and mobile phones are, at a minimum, an unwanted distraction in the classroom,” said Gillian Keegan, education secretary.

Last week, Rishi Sunak, prime minister of the UK via Instagram, revealed that some schools in the country had already banned phone use with positive results, requesting others to follow suit with government-enabled resources.

“Almost one-third of secondary school pupils said their lessons were disrupted by phones. We know that they’re a distraction in the classroom and cause bullying in schools. Many schools have already banned them which has led to a better and safer environment for their students. Now we’re publishing new guidance so other schools have the support to do the same.”

The guidance, issued on February 19 offers various approaches for schools to enforce the ban, such as restricting phones on school premises or securely locking them away during school hours.

According to the report released by the Department of Education, 44% of parents in the UK are concerned about their children’s screen time, rising to 50% of parents of secondary schoolers. Data from the communications office show that 97% of children in the UK already own a mobile phone by the age of 12.

Behaviour psychologists express concern about the implications of this early exposure.

“Mobile phones may be ubiquitous, but we have a strong and growing understanding of how damaging they can be for a child’s social and educational development. And it’s the least advantaged who suffer most. Many schools already have some kind of policy on phones, but this guidance provides a clear steer for everyone, including parents, about what’s right and what’s not for the wellbeing of the child,” said Tom Bennett, lead behaviour advisor to the Education department.

The move brings England in line with Nigeria and other countries that have implemented similar restrictions including France, Italy, and Portugal.

The ban on smartphones in schools came into effect in Nigeria in 2012, and although no official policy has been issued on prohibiting phone use, many states in the country have already implemented it.

In 2018, UNESCO called for the complete ban of smartphones in schools citing its link to reduced educational performance and negative effects on emotional stability.