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French Schools Are Tackling Screen Addiction Head On With New Law

By Dennis Matthew Livesey

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.