How sensible is ban on mobile phones in schools?

Mobile phones will be prohibited in French schools when classes begin this autumn. Internet-enabled devices will be banned in most schools, while lycées (upper secondary schools) will be allowed to decide for themselves whether to impose the ban. The move is a bid to improve pupils' concentration in class. Scientists and journalists also take a critical view of how smartphones are influencing our lives.

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Die Welt (DE) /

Analogue spaces needed for independence

Die Welt takes a critical view of the omnipresence of smartphones and backs the idea of banning them at schools:

“Smartphones are the biggest field trial that has ever been carried out with humans. We can literally watch them making us addicted, distracting us from the important things with trivialities, and fundamentally damaging our ability to concentrate. The German book market collapsed just as the smartphone was becoming a mass phenomenon. In order to give young people at least a minimal chance to be resilient and independent in the digital era they first of all need an analogue space. Whether they like it or not”

Le Figaro (FR) /

New transparency is a glass prison

Communication via social media has changed our relationship to the world, management professor Christophe Assens comments in an interview with Le Figaro:

“This type of communication makes you want to put your ego centre stage. The culture of the image triumphs over the culture of writing. Once you've accepted this logic you run the risk of depersonalisation: form progressively wins out over content, identities become smoother, more sterile and more uniform. ... For me such metamorphoses are very much a source of concern. A new dogma of transparency is being erected with everyone's presence on the same platform, where everyone monitors everyone else. But transparency creates a glass prison in which thought, consciousness, and ideas are bottled up inside.”

Postimees (EE) /

Infantile society glued to screens

The use of smartphones is making society infantile, sociologist Simon Gottschalk also notes in Postimees:

“Smartphones place the focus on the moment, on impulsiveness and the desire for uninterrupted, quick satisfaction. ... Whether we use these devices for work or for fun, they favour our tendency to submission. ... With their aggressive way of violating our privacy through monitoring, these devices deprive us of our independence. You can see this childish ethos as funny, but particularly in these times of social crises and fears it exerts a strong attraction. ... Democratic politics, however, demands debates, compromises and critical thinking. ... It's not hard to imagine how an infantile society will follow authoritarian leaders.”

Politiken (DK) /

Not only children need to change their ways

If adults want to mend their children's ways they must set an example with their own behaviour, Politiken urges:

“The solution can't be limited to the classroom. As long as adults are standing around using their phones everywhere you look, it will be impossible for children and adolescents not to do the same. Instead of just concentrating on young people, the task for all of society must be to regulate the use of mobile phones. That goes for parents who sit around glued to their phones at children's playgrounds, it goes for tourists who prefer to take selfies rather than actually experience a place, and it goes for employers who expect their employees to always be reachable. The smartphone is here to stay and it has an enormous potential. But it's time for us to control it - and not vice versa.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Going offline is not technophobia

Life is better away from the touch screens, philosophy teacher Marianne Murano argues in Le Monde:

“In fact we don't live in a world with screens, mobile phones and smart devices - we live in the world of screens, mobile phones and smart devices. ... Going offline is not technophobia: on the contrary, it promotes tools and functions that serve human needs. Turning off your devices does not mean isolating yourself: on the contrary, it means creating non-virtual links and truly social networks. Going offline doesn't mean living outside of time, but taking the time to live.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Smartphones make you smart

Aime Punga, director of the Hugo Treffner Gymnasium in Tartu, argues against a general ban on smartphones in Eesti Päevaleht:

“Smart phones and tablets are also used in class. The problem is that they are not always used in a targeted way but are sometimes just treated as accessories. This needs to be addressed. ... Of course these devices cause problems with attention and concentration, but you can't solve that with repressive means such as bans. The parallels with traffic, where smartphones are used despite being banned, fit in well here. School is no different to life in general. The negative aspects of these devices should not lead to us forbidding students access to all the information that they can provide.”