Mobile Phone Ban in Schools Takes Effect in France

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September 7, 2018

French students have survived their first week without use of their mobile phones during school hours.

French students and teacher

As part of a national education reform program, President Emmanuel macron's government enacted a prohibition on the use of mobile phones for schoolchildren under 15 while they are at school. The ban, which includes tablets and smartwatches, does not extend to high schools: Students ages 15–18 can face a ban, but it is up to their schools to enact one.

A recent study found that 90 percent of French children ages 12–17 had a mobile phone. The government, in enacting the ban, said that it was attempting to address what teachers had reported as a distraction to their students' ability to learn and, more worryingly, a rise in online bullying.

The government, said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, has left it up to schools to decide what to do with students' mobile phones during the day. The recommendation was to store the phones in lockers, but not all schools are so equipped. Another option is for students to turn their devices off and store them in backpacks or other personal bags.

The ban on mobile devices applies not just during classtime but during recess and other breaks, the government said, with the only exceptions being in times of emergency or in cases of students who need such devices to help with disabilities.

Among the government's other proposals is a return to the four-day school week. In 2013, the government mandated that schools must open on Wednesday, a day on which students had not attended school since 1882.

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