Education news

Mobile phone ban 'needs parents on board' if it's to work

Schools in France have banned all smartphones from schools

A MOBILE phone ban in schools would only work if it had the backing of all parents, a union has claimed.

Primary and middle school students in France are the latest to be told they will head back to classrooms without smartphones.

It has been urged that schools in Britain and Northern Ireland follow suit.

A group of Conservative MPs has said mobiles should be confiscated at school gates.

It is argued that if they are not permitted, it should help pupils concentrate and also reduce cyber bullying.

Many parents also believe there should be a partial ban. A recent survey found that almost six in 10 (59 per cent) said they thought pupils should not be allowed to carry their mobiles around school.

But just under half believed children should be allowed to bring them to and from school.

Avril Hall Callaghan, general secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU), said the reasons behind a total ban are laudable.

"You can't argue with them. However, I fear it would only work if all parents were on board as school policies like this need to be backed up at home," she said.

"What might be more useful than a ban is to ensure our young people know how to use mobiles safely, how to stay safe online and how to respect the rules of the school if it doesn't allow mobile use in class. Parents have a crucial role to play in this.

"Without mobiles the French government hopes to cut phone thefts and resultant violence, reduce bullying, and improve focus in lessons as well as communication between pupils."

Ms Hall Callaghan added that enforcing a ban could be cumbersome, problematic and add to school bureaucracy and teachers' workload.

A survey of parents by Internet Matters found around a quarter said phones should be permitted during break time, while a third could accept them being used during lunch.

Internet Matters chief executive Carolyn Bunting said allowing a child a smartphone could give parents peace of mind and it offered young people "fantastic opportunities to learn, communicate and explore".

"But if children aren't prepared - they can face many digital challenges including managing friendship groups, pressure to have social media or even pressure to play certain games," she said.

"Parents have a major role to play in equipping their children with the right tools to navigate their online world - especially during this pivotal moment when they're facing a raft of change."

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