Smartphones should be `banned' from classrooms
MOBILE phones should be banned from classrooms, with pupils to be lectured about the dangers of device dependency.
UK schools minister Nick Gibb said he had concerns about the impact that excessive phone use was having on children.
He said the government would introduce lessons for pupils on how to limit their screen time.
Mr Gibb said schools were free to set their own behaviour policies.
He added that his own view was schools should ban mobile telephones and smartphones inside classrooms.
"I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own use at home," he said.
"Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it's an hour less exercise and it's an hour less sleep.
"And of course it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child's mental health."
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) warned banning phones in schools outright could make tackling the associated problems harder.
"Outright banning mobile phones can cause more problems than it solves, driving phone use 'underground' and making problems less visible and obvious for schools to tackle," said NAHT senior policy adviser, Sarah Hannafin.
"Ultimately, schools work to prepare young people for the outside world, giving them the awareness and strategies to responsibly monitor their own screen use and the ability to identify and deal with any negative impacts or problematic content they encounter."
Britain and Northern Ireland would be following European counterparts if schools introduced a ban, with French pupils being told to leave their smartphones at home when they returned from their summer holidays last year.
Former Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw also said devices were disrupting lessons.
Speaking at the Festival of Education at Wellington College last summer, Sir Michael said that "any sensible head would ban mobile phones".
"It's interesting that President Macron is now bringing in legislation in France to ban mobile phones in state schools in France. We should do the same here.
"It's far too distracting for children having mobile phones. Texting, sexting, all this takes place. Mobile phones go off in classrooms, disrupting lessons. Ban them. If children want to use a phone in an emergency they can use the school phone."
A subsequent study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University in the US concluded that students scored the equivalent of half a grade less in end-of-term tests if they were allowed to use their devices for non-academic reasons in their classes.