The culture secretary said while he “enthusiastically supports” the use of technology for teaching, banning phones in schools is the way to go.
“Why do young children need phones in schools?” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday 20 June. “There are a number of schools across the country that simply don’t allow them.
“While it is up to individual schools to decide rather than government, I admire headteachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day. I encourage more schools to follow their lead. The evidence is that banning phones in schools works.”
Hancock said he supports teaching children about technology, but questions how “safe” they will be with access to their phones and said studies have shown mobile phones can have an impact on working memory and intelligence. He added that modern digital technology is a “powerful force for good”, but like any new technology it brings challenges, especially for children.
Hancock’s claims about reducing the amount of time kids spend on phones come after he revealed he doesn’t allow his kids on social media. “I allow my children to do their homework online, but I don’t let them on to social media,” he told the Guardian in June 2018. “They don’t have access to the devices. They don’t have phones. Why do they need phones? They’re children, they’re 11.”
The debate over kids’ use of phones is a topical one. Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said yesterday [19 June] she plans to ask mums and dads what measures they would want included in a legally-enforced code for social media companies, in what has been dubbed a “social media curfew”.
Responding to the news, some parents felt that ensuring kids weren’t on their phones at night would be a good thing, with many already imposing their own curfew. “I’ve always taken the boys’ phones, tablets and all forms of technology off them at night,” mum Tracey-Jane Hughes, 47, from Chorley, told HuffPost UK. She has two sons Ben, 16, and Jack, 14. “They put them downstairs at least 30 minutes before their lights out time.”
However others felt children should learn for themselves to regulate how much time they should spend on their phones. Michelle Shulman, 30, from Leighton Buzzard, said she didn’t impose a curfew on her 15-year-old daughter Kelsie’s phone use, as she believes that Kelsie is old enough to learn about taking responsibility for when to get off her phone and go to sleep.
What do you think? Should mobile phones be banned at school? Let us know in the comments below.