It’s no longer a request, France is officially banning the use of phones in schools for children aged 6 – 15 from September 2018.
Presidents Macron and especially his wife Brigitte, a former teacher herself are particularly eager to see this law enforced.
The proposed ban was a key part of his presidential campaign. So there’s a good chance it will receive international support when it comes into full force.
In addition to France, there have been several countries who have enforced similar laws.
In 2016, Italy overturned its own ban on phones in school where the Education Minister Valeria Fedeli said smartphones "are an extraordinary tool to facilitate learning.”
Germany’s most southerly and progressive state Bavaria, banned phones on school grounds in 2006 after police found pornography and violent images on devices seized from students in two different towns. However, experts are now looking at reversing this and introducing a public health campaign focussing on better usage habits.
In 2006, New York City’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned phone in schools. This lead to trucks parking outside schools and charging a dollar per day for storage. Bill de Blasio, the new Mayor since has reversed this policy.
Additionally, Japan, Sweden, Russia and California are also struggling to find a satisfactory common approach with both calls for the ban and acknowledgements of the role that phones have in modern life prevailing equally.
The French Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer, strongly feels that due to smartphones children no longer play with each other at break times, and this is particularly problematic for children under the age of seven. The ban applies to kids aged 6 - 15. Remember it is a total ban on phones.
According to child development experts, play and interaction are integral to the development of social and emotional intelligence. It is through this interaction that children learn people skills, group dynamics and empathy, which will serve them in adult life.
However, if children as young as five are spending their time on smartphones rather than talking and playing with one another, they will miss the opportunity to develop healthy social skills in early life.
For now, parents and teachers in France appear united in their opposition to the new law, saying the debate should not be about banning phones but regulating their use.
“Our position is that we must limit smartphones perverse effects,” said Gerard Pommier, the head of the Federation of Parents in State Schools. “We would prefer work to be done on the educational aspect. Phones are tools, and it’s their excessive use that poses a problem.”
Alexis Torchet, secretary general of the teachers’ union SGEN-CFDT, said, “The question is not about banning phones but teaching students how to use them in a sensible and reasoned manner.” “About 90 percent of students have what is basically a computer in their pockets that is often more operational than the school’s ones,” Torchet said. “The debate must be centered around technology education.”
“There is a lot of teaching to do about digital tools and digitization in general for e safety,” he added
France is actively and forcibly trying to get rid of cyberbullying, improve e- safety in schools and permanently improve internet safety in France.
The difference with this law is that it’s nationwide, has the full support of the Government, and is applied universally to 6-15 year olds. This is the first time that such direct force has been applied to the issue universally with no exceptions.
The ban is a bold move, everyone acknowledges that but few see the move bearing fruit.
Schools, teachers and parents point out children will continue to misbehave online outside of school hours with school and school boards having to still deal with the problems.
The world will be watching and hoping that France might find something new to bear on this problem in order to make a success of it. In the meantime both Huawei, Apple and Samsung are looking to develop a solution as it will lead to a slew of new sales from anxious parents.
The importance of internet safety for children, teens and businesses is not only relevant to France, the entire world needs to move towards safer, more informed and better managed internet use.
Our internet safety talks for kids, teens and businesses offer comprehensive information regarding safer internet use and cyber security. We speak to the specific issues facing children and teens online.
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