Phones in Schools

So Bournside’s head teacher wants to clamp down on mobile phone use in school. Phones will be confiscated if they are seen or heard in lessons or the school’s dining centre.

Good for him. I think it’s absolutely the right decision.

The evidence of the extraordinary hold our mobile phones have on us is increasingly clear. One study in the Harvard Business Review found that people’s concentration could be disrupted even by the presence of a switched-off phone lying on their desks. In its study of 800 people, those who left their switched off phones outside the room scored “statistically significant” better results than those whose phones stayed in their pockets. They in turn, did better than those who left them on their desks.

“The mere presence of our smartphones is like the sound of our names – they are constantly calling to us, exerting a gravitational pull on our attention,” they said.

Now, like Bournside, schools up and down the country are taking note. One school in west London, Latymer Upper School, has banned them for all children up to the end of GCSEs. Children arriving at school will have to switch off their phones and put them in their lockers from 8:25 to 4pm with parents told they should ring the school if they need to contact their children.

They said its previous ban for pupils aged 11 to 13 had been “incredibly positive” with more children playing outside, pursuing hobbies, and socialising normally.

As I know from my parliamentary inquiry into social media and adolescent mental health, social media, however positive overall, can pile pressure on young people. Evidence increasingly shows that excessive use can cause harm. So taking time out whilst in school, and focusing on learning, building real-life friendships and sharing interests, is something we should support.

Congratulations to Bournside for taking a stand.