The French government, like more than a dozen countries, has legislated to ban all students under the age of 15 from using smart phones in school.
Furthermore, in Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and China governments are banning or restricting Wi-Fi use in schools, recognizing the deleterious non-thermal effects from electromagnetic radiation.
Apart from protecting children from physical harm, the French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told News.com the move was designed to limit distractions and cyberbullying, as well as encouraging children to socialise.
Meanwhile Australian educational authorities are reluctant to follow suit.
Pollyanna anecdotes abound by cyberphiles with tales of students creating ‘amazing’ IT projects using their smartphones.
Some academics argue that the solution is to educate children to regulate their use of the technology. Parents demand that their children have 24/7 access to their smartphones and teachers are reluctant to police any ban on using phones in school. Administrators complain that they would struggle to store the banned phones at school!
Anyone who has actually taught in a classroom knows that they are invariably a distraction and often a catalyst for anti-social behaviour and bullying. Research shows that students’ grades improve once smartphones are removed, especially for struggling students.
Use of smartphones has been shown to be addictive and, in effect, schools are aiding and abetting addiction by allowing students unfettered access to the technology.
Many students are so umbilically connected to their smartphones that the only conversations they have at school are on-line. Some are hooked on the latest on-line game rather than running around the playground enjoying the health benefits of exercise and experiencing the give and take of participating in games and socialising with their peers.
We are suffering an obesity epidemic well and truly aware that excessive smartphone use is an unhealthy sedentary obsession.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, our policymakers and school administrators sit on their hands and are afraid to emulate the leadership shown by the French and other governments around the world and ban smartphones in our schools.
And for what it’s worth, having taught Year 12 classes at a prestigious independent school, it was tedious confronting students who would be often distracted by their phones which demand their attention 24/7.
By removing what are essentially toys and social media gadgets from the classrooms we are doing our students a favour by allowing them to learn more effectively in a distraction-free environment.
They have the remaining 16 hours of day and night to feed their addiction to games, Instagram and social media.