In early August, France approved the ban on using mobile phones in nurseries, first and secondary schools . This week the new law has entered into force and the French schools begin to take measures to ‘detoxify’ the use of mobile phones for a whole generation. According to the figures that the government of the country manages, more than 90% of children between 12 and 17 have a telephone and about 35% of class sanctions are related to their use.
The use of the mobile can affect the quality of listening and concentration and its use decreases the development of students. This is why France prohibits the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices such as tablets or smartwatches. The directors of each institution will be responsible for enforcing the new law. Let’s see what rules and exceptions are being implemented in this ban and how schools can react to unforeseen situations.
What does the mobile phone ban cover in class?
France is the first country to apply this measure by law and the truth is that it has other projects in hand to adapt to the use of new technologies. However, the new legal framework allows secondary schools to introduce procedural rules and exceptions . The principal and the educational community will review the statutes of each school and apply the prohibition provided by the law of August 3.
The prohibition is valid during school and extracurricular hours, but is also effective during activities organized outside of school such as field trips or museum visits. During this period the mobile phones must be turned off and stored.
In case of breach of this rule, ” an adapted, individual and gradual response to any use of the mobile phone within the school or institution must be given .” The punishment can take the form of additional duties, detection time, a confiscation of the device and even a disciplinary sanction for the most serious cases.
If the punishment chosen is the confiscation of the mobile phone , it will be returned to the student or his legal guardians at the end of the same-day teaching activities.
What exceptions are contemplated
This regulation is flexible and it is up to the schools to apply it correctly. Some exceptions are students with disabilities where they are allowed to use medical devices associated with communication equipment, such as diabetic children who want to control their blood glucose level.
Another exception is the particular educational use. By specifying the place and circumstance, the teacher and the center can carry out educational activities that expressly require the use of technologies .
The responsibility remains in the hands of the principal of the school, who must justify each exceptional use of the mobile in the school.
What happens if a student has to communicate urgently with his family? In these cases it is the responsibility of the school principal , who must also remember the terms and conditions of the regulations so that they are exceptions.
The use of mobile phones by adults as teachers or administrative staff is not prohibited in schools. However, they must demonstrate reasonable use to help students accept the measure.
How is it being applied
It is up to each school to determine practical arrangements to ensure compliance with the law. One of the solutions is the installation of ‘ hôtel pour mobile ‘, some lockers where students can leave their cell phone stored first thing and pick them up when leaving. Another option is the use of Yondr-style protective covers like those already used in some US schools.
It is also recommended to inform parents from information on school boards, reminders on the official website, a blog, direct messages to parents at meetings or even an informative written brochure that is distributed among students.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, French education minister, commented in June this year that ” being open to the technologies of the future does not mean that we should accept all its uses .” For its part, the opposition has commented that the law is very open and there are still many doubts about how schools can apply it.
France already had a law, of 2010, which prohibits the use of mobile phones in class. Now this new regulation extends to the entire school and even to extracurricular activities. For now, institutes with students over 15, as well as universities, may choose individually if they adopt the ban.
It is still too early to discern the scope of the measure. According to the French newspaper Le Parisien, the government has invested 20 million euros in guaranteeing the ban and by January 2019 all schools should be applying it.
The prohibition of smartphones at school is a fairly accepted measure, at least in countries like Norway where, despite the absence of a law that explains it, only 14% of the students surveyed say that it is something negative. From the United Kingdom some voices such as culture secretary Matt Hancock have commented that this is the address, but there are still professors who think that a direct ban is not the most appropriate way to act.