France bans the use of students phones in schools
It’s official: French students are prohibited from bringing their smartphones with them when going to school.
Members of the Parliament have ratified the law that bans the use of smartphones and tablets among pre-school, elementary, and middle school students while in school. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new legislation is one of the measures to address parents’ concerns, and educators’ as well, about excessive use of mobile devices among children and the youth. President Emmanuel Macron also made a promise during the campaign period to combat “screen addiction” by restricting wireless devices in schools.
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As per Jean-Michael Blanquer, the French Minister of Education, the ban is meant to eliminate distractions in learning brought about by smartphones. In addition, the measure is intended to encourage students to enjoy recreational activities instead of using their mobile devices during breaks or in-between classes.
Public Health versus Technological Progress
Even before the Parliament passed the law, the French Education Code already prohibits cell phone use while in class. The legislation will reinforce existing policies that protect the students from the harmful effects of Wi-Fi and connected devices. For instance, the French National Assembly enacted a law that minimizes the exposure to wireless radiation electromagnetic fields. As a result, Wi-Fi use is limited, if not totally restricted, in pre-schools and elementary schools. Moreover, these schools are compelled to turn on their routers when complementing learning activities. For high schools, they are not obliged to follow but are only recommended to adopt such a measure.
A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science showed that banning smartphones in schools caused a clear improvement in students' test scores.
According to Mr. Blanquer, the Government is not impeding technological progress, especially in the country’s education system. Having said that, screen addiction among the students have become a public health concern, which is what the Education Ministry would like to address.
The Dangers of Cell Phone Use
A number of journal papers have established the health effects of excessive cell phone use. For one, the National Toxicology Program has correlated long-term cell phone radiation with brain and heart cancer. While in Switzerland, scientists have shown that cell phone use is said to lower and weaken memory performance among teenagers. Moreover, spending hours on mobile devices suggests a pattern of addictive behavior.
Because of the health risks associated with smartphone use, the United Educators of San Francisco in California have approved a resolution that calls for stringent technology standards for schools in the area. “We are concerned about the health of the city’s educators and about the students whose growing bodies may be more susceptible to the effects of wireless radiation.”, says Sarahn Aminoff, an educator from the district.
Meanwhile, there are cities in and out of the country that has previously partially restricted cell phone use in schools. In 2015, New York City lifted the ban due to protests from parents.
How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Children?
Since electronic devices have been an integral part of our everyday life, using them all throughout the day is inevitable. As parents, it is essential that you discuss with your children the importance of limiting the use of these devices. In fact, a research from the London School of Economics endorses limiting cell phone use in schools as it is shown to improve the academic standing of the students. It is also recommended that you teach them how to utilize these devices, both for educational and recreational use.
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