The conservative British government believes that there are too many of these phones, and wants to completely ban students from using mobile phones, even during breaks. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan pointed to warnings from the UN’s UNESCO that mobile devices could lead to distraction, cyberbullying and threaten student privacy. 29 percent of high school students reported unauthorized use of phones in class.
Mobile phones are also set to be banned elsewhere
Great Britain is not the first country to ban “mobile phones” from schools. The Netherlands had already announced a ban in July that will take effect starting next year. Especially when students are on social media or using other apps during class, this distracts them from the lesson material and disrupts social interaction in the class, the reason mentioned is. The British government also cited France, Italy and Portugal as examples.
Banning mobile phones in schools has also been discussed for a long time in Germany. Some politicians, scientists, as well as the professional union of paediatricians, complain that smartphones and tablets mean children do not spend enough time outside. At least in primary schools, mobile phones should be banned completely, as Schleswig-Holstein Education Minister and CDU Federal Vice President Karin Prien demanded in mid-August.
German teachers say “no”
On the other hand, the German Teachers’ Association rejects plans like those in Great Britain. “You cannot impose an absolute ban on mobile phones for all age groups and the entire school district,” association president Stefan Doll told the German news agency. Many parents wanted their children to be able to make arrangements at short notice, for example if a class was cancelled.
Of course, the potential for disruption caused by smartphones is great, Dole says. But there was also a lot of distraction in the analog era. Students would have completed work assignments for other subjects, written letters, or done other special things. “Ideas are free, no one can control them,” Dole said.
The “liberal student approach” is the most important. We need to think together about how digital devices are used in school. “A blanket and complete ban only leads to evasion and, as a result, harassment of young people,” Dole said. Also, imposing a ban on mobile phones does little to help combat digital bullying. “If you want to bully, carry on in the afternoon.” Teachers can’t control that. “Cyberbullying must be dealt with and discussed on its merits in order to take targeted action against it.
Critical Voices in Great Britain
There is also resistance in England. The planned ban is “unenforceable” and ineffective, and the head of the teachers’ union NASUWT, Patrick Roach, has criticized it. The help of parents and teachers will be even more important, because the negative consequences of smartphone use are not limited to the classroom. Like Dole, head of the Association of School Leaders NAHT, Paul Whiteman, pointed to problems in practical implementation, for example when it comes to agreements between children and their parents.
However, it will likely be some time before a ban on mobile phones is enacted into law. The British government has also acknowledged this. First of all, new guidelines should be issued to encourage schools to follow the same rules.
Copyright 2023, German Press Agency (www.dpa.de). All rights reserved.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”