Banning cell phones at school, a measure that is gaining ground around the world

Banning cell phones at school, a measure that is gaining ground around the world

All over the world, parents and specialists are concerned about the harmful effects of hyperconnection on young people. To limit them, some are campaigning for cell phones to be banned within school premises. Some countries have taken the plunge, while others are hesitant to display a zero tolerance policy.

New Zealand recently banned the use of smartphones in schools. Since May 1, students must leave their phone turned off in their bag or locker during class hours. Their parents can contact their children through school life staff.

This measure was one of the campaign promises of New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, who sees it as a way to promote success for as many people as possible. Supporters of the ban say cell phones have no place in schools as they are a major source of distraction for students. Their use would also be at the origin of a significant part of the incivility and disruption within schools, particularly in terms of cyberharassment. However, some question the feasibility of such a ban.

But other countries have already implemented similar initiatives in schools. In Australia, the use of cell phones is banned in all public schools as well as many Catholic and independent schools across the country. Same story in Europe. Students are asked not to use their smartphones during class hours in Europe, Portugal, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and certain regions of Spain. However, mobiles are authorized for educational uses, under the supervision of teachers.

Italy has long adopted a similar policy, but Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara announced in February that phones and tablets should no longer be used for educational purposes in the future. This ban applies to nursery schools, elementary schools and middle schools in the country, according to the Euronews website.

Mixed scientific research

Generally speaking, the trend is towards a systematic ban on smartphones in schools. One in four countries around the world have passed laws banning the use of cell phones in classrooms, according to the 2023 edition of UNESCO's World Education Report. The international organization highlights the negative impact of excessive mobile use on students' attention and learning abilities, based on the conclusions of recent OECD surveys.

However, while countless studies have been conducted to measure the effects of screens on the behavior and academic performance of young people, the scientific literature has paid little attention to the presumed effectiveness of policies banning cell phones at school. school. Marilyn Campbell and Elizabeth J Edwards from the University of Queensland reviewed the findings of 22 research papers on the subject. They deduced that “evidence for banning cell phones in schools is weak and inconclusive“, as they wrote in an article published on the site The Conversation.

But Sara Abrahamsson, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, came to the opposite conclusion. She noted, among other things, that young Norwegian women who attend schools where the use of telephones is prohibited have less need to be monitored for psychological disorders than others. She also linked academic performance to smartphones. Enough to push Sara Abrahamsson to affirm that “banning smartphones in classrooms is an inexpensive measure that has considerable effects on students' mental health and academic success“.