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France bans cellphone use in public schools

June 8, 2018

French lawmakers have approved a ban on the use of mobile phones in public schools. Critics say the move will do little to end classroom disruptions or bullying.

Young girl texting on a smartphone
Image: Imago/Photocase

Opponents of the blanket ban on mobile phone use said it is unlikely to wean students off their phones. The legislation — approved by members of France's lower house National Assembly on Thursday — would require students to keep their phones out of sight. However, there was no penalty specified in the law for their use. Lawyers said that teachers do not have a right to confiscate non-dangerous belongings from students.

Supporters of the bill said smartphone usage among children has worsened cyberbullying, eased access to pornography and hampered the ability of youngsters to interact socially.

Read more: Smartphone addiction messes up brain chemistry

Smiling teenager with smartphone
Critics say the law is unlikely to wean students off their smartphonesImage: picture-alliance/Bildagentur-online/Tetra-Images

Richard Ferrand, head of French President Emmanuel Macron's 'Republic on the Move' party in Parliament, said the law would improve children's social skills."When, on a playground, you see young people next to each other all staring at their phones," the consequence is "to break the link of camaraderie and sharing," Ferrand said.

Some 93 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds had a cellphone, according to a 2016 survey by France's electronic communications and postal regulatory authority (ARCEP), up from 72 percent in 2005.

President Emmanuel Macron hopes the bill will pass through Parliament in time to impose the ban before the start of the next academic year in September.

Read more: 100,000 German teenagers addicted to social media, study finds

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kw/bw (AFP, Reuters)