France Bans Cellphones in Primary and Secondary Schools

Net Neutrality? More like Phone Neutrality.

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Columnist

As the first semester of the school year ends, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French Minister of National Education, has outlined the first plans of an effective total ban on cellphones in schools throughout the country.

According to National Public Radio, France’s current system bans students from taking their phones out of their bags during the school day; however, they can still bring them to school. Despite the rule forbidding the students from using their phones during the school day, many teachers have noticed that students will pay more attention to their phones’ notifications, rather than the actual teacher. This then leads to an environment where students choose to not pay attention to the class and actually learn. Blanquer himself has noted the increasing number of younger students who stare at their phones, rather than playing at recess.

French newspaper Le Monde recently released a study which may provide additional insight into these problems. The number of adolescents carrying a cellphone on them has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2011, around two of every ten students had a cell phone. But by 2015, it had reached eight of every ten. Students began carrying phones on them as early as nine, in the cours moyen two – their equivalent of  the fourth grade.

However, until the plans take effect, teachers will have to make do. Some Parisian teachers have already tried out new plans. When students enter the classroom, their phones are confiscated and given back at the end of the class. Surprisingly, most of the students are fine with it, leading to the teachers to speculate.

Many teachers are already pushing for the individual schools to enact plans like this, where the students’ phones are confiscated at the beginning of the day. However, some parents and students, and even some teachers, are against this plan. Besides the classic “cell phones help students” argument, concerns have been raised on how to return the phones. Students can’t simply grab their phone and leave, as the chance of one being stolen is too high. And passing them out individually would require teachers to remember whose phone is whose, and would take far too long.

In the end, whether the plan is enacted in the future or not, Blanquer and his officials will have to solve all of these problems, first.