Thanks to a new ban imposed by the French government, there will be no Snapchatting, Facebooking, texting, or tweeting during school hours for kids under age 15. Officials have passed a law prohibiting the use of smartphones and other electronic devices while at school.
French students will have to learn to leave their devices at home or turn them completely off come the start of the new school year. Exceptions will be allowed for students with disabilities and for extracurricular activities.
Administrators will be able to use electronic devices for learning-related activities. The rule is nothing new, as one has been part of the educational code since 2010 that prohibits students from having phones in the classroom. That one extends from kindergarten all the way to college, but has been difficult to enforce.
During his election campaign in 2017, French president Emmanuel Macron promised to enact a sweeping ban on phones in schools, and found support from education officials. The discussion over phones and other devices was revived late last year after comments made by France’s educational minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer:
“These days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that’s a problem.
This is about ensuring the rules and the law are respected. The use of telephones is banned in class. With headmasters, teachers and parents, we must come up with a way of protecting pupils from loss of concentration via screens and phones.”
This new law will extend beyond the classroom and apply to break times and school premises in general. France is not alone. Certain parts of the UK have similar restrictions while Sweden has used similar measures with overwhelming support from students.
Numerous studies point to how excessive screen time interferes with brain and social development for kids, as well as how cell phones distract children and adults from everyday tasks and family time. Addictions to mobile devices are a concern for parents and teachers, with many worried about the lack of focus and physical activity.
With school beginning in September in France, it will be an adjustment for students and parents who are used to the old system. High school students are not subject to the policy so it will be interesting to see how things play out.
When it comes to this new ban, is there some resistance from French parents? Sure. There are concerns about safety and communication. But there is also the expectation that students respect the school environment and learn to swap out that screen time for other activities.
Jump to the video below to hear how French parents are reacting to the news and thoughts on whether the idea will spread. It is unclear what consequences will ensue for children who do not abide by the code, but teachers welcome the ability to enforce what’s been difficult to uphold in the past.
What are your thoughts on France’s law? Would you support a similar ban for your child’s school? Why or why not?