French School Year Begins With Mobile Phone Ban For Children Under 15

Students in France have been banned from using their mobile phones during school hours after a new law has been passed prohibiting their use.

According to a new report from Quartz, the ban covers all primary and middle schools in the country for the entire day, including during breaks, but with exceptions in cases of emergency and for disabled children.

The new law, a campaign promise from French President Emmanuel Macron, was brought in under a law passed in July which for primary and junior schools also banishes tablets and smartwatches.

High schools, which teach students aged 15 to 18, can introduce partial or total bans on electronic devices as they reopen after the summer break, though this will not be obligatory.

Proponents say the law, which has prompted vigorous debate, will reduce distraction in the classroom, combat bullying, and encourage children to be more physically active during recess.

The purpose of the law, according to the Ministry of Education, is threefold (link in French),” reads the report. “It is meant to help kids’ ‘attention, concentration and reflection’ in class; encourage kids to actually play with each other, make friends, and exercise during recreation times; and to combat racketeering, theft, online bullying, and harassment in schools, as well as limit young children’s exposure ‘to shocking, violent, or pornographic images.'”

The law was described as “a law for the 21st century” by French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, who also declared, “Being open to technologies of the future doesn’t mean we have to accept all their uses.”

Schools all over the world have struggled to adapt to the rise of pocket-sized devices as parents grow increasingly anxious about the amount of time their children spend glued to the screen.