French lawmakers ban smartphones in schools

- French lawmakers voted on Monday to ban smartphones from the classroom: Students younger than 15 must leave the phones at home, or have them turned off during the school day. 

The measure prohibits the use of tablets, computers, and other internet-connected devices as well. There are exceptions in place for students with disabilities and for the educational use of devices in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities, The Verge reported. High schools will decided whether they implement the ban in the classrooms. 

In the United States, most individual schools ban the use of cell phones in the classrooms, but there is no national or state law that prohibits them. 

The French ban was a campaign promise of French president Emmanuel Macron, and after the measure was passed he tweeted, “Commitment held.”

More than 90 percent of children aged 12 years or older have a mobile phone in France, according to the bill. France’s action has stirred debate in other countries like Britain and Ireland on whether they should take a cue from Paris on the ban in schools nationwide, Reuters reported.

“Mobile phones are a technological advance but they cannot monopolize our lives,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told LCI news TV channel.

“You can’t find your way in a world of technology if you can’t read, write, count, respect others and work in a team.”

Supporters of the bill say smartphone usage among children of junior and middle-school age has worsened cyber-bullying, eased access to pornography and hampered the ability of youngsters to interact socially.

Some teachers, who are targeted in the bill too,  have publicly derided their inclusion, including Stephane Crochet of the UNSA teachers union, who told RTL radio it was an insult to adult-age staff and also a security risk. One teacher said teachers need phones for emergencies.

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