Half of parents want schools to ban mobile phones

Half of parents want their child’s school to ban mobile phones, amid fears that the gadgets distract their offspring in the classroom.

Phones in schools are controversial.

Parents said they spend an average of £264 per child a year on tech gadgets such as smartphones and iPads – with pupils taking more than £2.3 billion of gadgets into the classroom every day – but were considering downgrading them to more basic devices to curb distractions from social media and apps.

The news comes just days after Glasgow City Council announced plans to provide an iPad for every child from P6 upwards.

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One in eight people surveyed said that their child’s school had already banned devices in the classroom, like Bertha Park High School in Perth, which last month ruled that all pupils’ phones should be stored away in lockers from the start of the school day in a bid to encourage more face-to-face interaction with pupils during intervals and lunchtimes and “cut down on unhealthy screen time”.

The study, by uSwitch.com, said that four in ten children take at least one gadget to school every day, while a fifth take two, and almost one in ten take three. More than half of children take a smartphone to school, with 15 per cent carrying a tablet computer, 12 per cent wearing a smartwatch and 11 per cent using bluetooth headphones. Only a quarter of pupils do not bring any devices with them.

One in four parents said they had considered downgrading their child’s smartphone to a ‘dumbphone’ that can only be used for calls and texts, to remove potential distractions.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said: “It’s a mark of our always-connected times that half of pupils now have their own smartphone, and the number of gadgets that schoolchildren are carrying into class every day is mind-boggling.

“It is understandable that parents are concerned about the potential distractions facing their children, but banning phones from schools is not as straightforward as it sounds.”

But, he warned, children need to be tech-savvy to survive in the modern world.

“Striking the right balance is an impossible task for parents and teachers, but with the arrival of 5G, the world is going to become increasingly connected, and schoolchildren need to be able to deal with the tech-filled environment they’re growing up in.”

Each tech-carrying pupil has £301 worth of gadgets in their school bag on average — a 38 per cent increase from 2016.