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France Bans Mobile Phone Use in Schools Starting in 2018

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The French government is going to ban students from using mobile phones in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools.  Children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but they won’t be able to get them out at any time – until they leave.  This includes breaks.  This ban was part of Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign.  The French education minister said that the ban would come into effect from the start of the next school year – September 2018.   This ban will apply to all pupils from the time they start school (at age 6) until they start secondary school (around the age of 15).

Is this a good idea?  The education minister is saying that this ban is a public health message to families.  He doesn’t believe that it’s healthy for children to be in front of a screen, often, before the age of 7.  That may be, but sometimes this is unavoidable. Not only that but what about using screens from an education perspective? Some people from the teachers union are skeptical that enforcement is possible.  I think that it can.  I mean, if you see a student with a phone, you take it away for a period of time.  How is that not enforcement?  After three strikes, the punishment increases.

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I don’t think enforcement is the issue though. I am not sure how it will work, but I think it can be enforced. There seems to be this idea that the phones will be taken away from the students when they get to school.  But I’m not sure that’s the case.  I would think that they would be given the benefit of the doubt.  Which means, they would keep their phones in their locker (or backpack) until the end of the day, when they can use the phone again.

One student had this to say: “It’s ridiculous. At my school, we don’t use them in class or during recess, so what’s the problem? If anyone’s caught using one in the toilets or at lunchtime, the phones are confiscated immediately and the person is given detention.”  Is it ridiculous though?  I mean, I know how distracted my phone can make me and I’m an adult.  I know better.  So I can only imagine how a phone affects a young child.

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Parents aren’t quite sure about this ban. One parent said, “It’s probably a good idea when the kids are in school, but they can’t ban them bringing them to school.  My daughter goes to school and comes home on her own, and at this time of year it’s dark so early, so I want her to have a phone with her. It’s reassuring. But rather than a ban, wouldn’t it be better to install a signal blocker in schools?”  Is that a possibility?

How will this work out?  That remains to be seen, but education officials are studying how to implement the ban.  A mobile phone ban isn’t the strangest thing that the government wants to implement.  The Minister announced that each school must set up a choir before January 2019.  Huh?  Le Parisien newspaper said that the government has set aside money for the measure and that joining the choir would be voluntary.  But each school has to have one. Which measure is weirder – the cell phone ban, or the mandatory choir?

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