When children in France start returning to school in September, many of them will be doing it without their smartphones and tablets.
On Monday, France passed a new law banning internet-connected devices for all school children ages 3 to 15. Devices will have to be left at home or turned off for the duration of the school day. French high schools, with students age 15 and above, will decide for themselves whether or not to apply the ban.
The measure passed by Parliament fulfills a campaign promise by French President Emmanuel Macron, but critics of the new law claim it's a publicity stunt and regressive in its thinking.
Supporters feel the ban will benefit overall academic performance. A South Korean study has shown that screen addiction raises levels of a neurotransmitter that causes distraction and reduces the ability to focus. A similar study from the London School of Economics showed a clear improvement in test scores after banning smart phones.
French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told BFMTV the law is an effort to protect children.
We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use... Our main role is to protect children and adolescents. It is a fundamental role of education, and this law allows it.
Much of the global reaction to the law seems to agree that phones do not belong in the classroom.
And all the parents said, "Amen!!!" You go, France!— DianeGrimaldiWhiting (@DianeWUtah) July 31, 2018
It will cause more face to face communication which is a good thing.— Jack Murrell (@iu70us) July 31, 2018
And many were eager to import the ban to their countries.
America needs to do the same! Children do not need these devices and they should be removed from the classroom.— Ann Weaver (@Ann8272) July 31, 2018
US should do this as well. Finally France ahead of us in making a smart move.— Terry Nelson (@Sodjacket) July 31, 2018
French critics of the law, however, are calling it redundant, pointing out that a similar law was passed in France back in 2010.
"In reality, the ban has already been made," said Alexis Corbière, a former teacher and member of the Unbowed France party. "I don't know a single teacher in this country that allows the use of phones in class."
Corbière also believe the law is regressive. "This isn't a 21st century law in our eyes, but a law from the era of news channels and binary debate."
Others agreed and felt that education should adapt to new technology rather than resisting it.
Does this mean you support policing of cellphone use over creating learning environments in which children are not bored enough to feel the need to check their cell phones? What about using cell phones in learning?— BeaLeiderman (@BeaLeiderman) July 31, 2018
I try to teach my students appropriate technology use by requiring them to ask to use their phone and only allowing it for educational purposes. My physics students use the slow-motion camera, and we use them for calculators and stop watches outside. https://t.co/cy05C4sc3R— Nicholas Persa (@NicholasPersa) August 1, 2018
Integrating how to use personal technology responsibly in my class. Students can check messages at appropriate times, If they use their phone during an inappropriate time, I let them know. I’m teaching them how to check them and use them with intelligence. https://t.co/5PWlPlCxOm— Nicholas Persa (@NicholasPersa) August 1, 2018
In the fight against screen addiction, the law raises the question: do bans help or simply pass the buck?
This doesn't promote healthy phone habits. It just transfers the problem out of the schools. French legislators aren't solving anything, they're just saying 'not in my backyard.'— Shad Raouf (@shadraouf) July 31, 2018