As part of his campaign prior to election, French President Emmanuel Macron championed policy restricting devices such as smart watches, tablets, and even cellphones from being used by children aged three to fifteen while in school. This year, the French Education Ministry put the plan into effect. The reason for this move is aimed at improving the education and well-being of young students. The new law will hopefully help improve the focus and the social skills of developing learners. At the same time, the law was designed to also prevent youths from becoming involved in crimes such as theft, cyber bullying, and other violent acts.
Each school’s principal has been tasked with how to implement the new state policy in the school building. They must decide how the devices will be stored throughout the school day. The principals choose where students store phones. A locker or backpack may suffice. Special circumstances allow for the use of a device, however. Those with disabilities or those involved with emergencies may use the devices. Plus, any student may use a device in the classroom when the teacher’s lesson requires their accessibility. In many ways, the new policy mirrors classroom rules and codes of conduct that have been on the books for years. Like much of what is being practiced in the United States today, students caught using phones during inappropriate times face disciplinary action. An essential difference is that now law backs the confiscation of devices like cell phones. The law states that the school reserves the power to confiscate one’s phone or similar device until the end of the school day.
What Teachers Think
As for teachers, many see the absence of cellphones already improving their students’ readiness to learn. Last minute texts are not being sent when class starts. Instruction is not interrupted by ring tones or notification bells. Infrequently, the rule is broken, but now teachers may confiscate the phones without argument. While some schools implemented the rule voluntarily before it had been made into law, some teachers have been scrambling to adjust to their principals’ implementation of it, especially when the devices can be used in the name of pedagogy.
The French Education Ministry recognizes the teaching power devices bring to the classroom. Teachers know great resources are out in cyberspace and their students have the potential to learn a world of knowledge with the help of their devices. One great thing about using devices in the classroom is that students can take what they have learned during instruction and access it during their free time away from school. Many teaching apps are not the kind that students seek out on their own and introducing them in the classroom may be the only way a child would find a great teaching tool.
What Students Think
Students are feeling both positive and negative effects from the new ban, especially when it comes to cellphones. Students have been observed to display symptoms of behavioral issues when separated from their phones. Many kids fear being out of contact with their friends and family. Some teachers have reported that some students tend to create “emergencies” in hopes of being granted permission to use their phones. Likewise, more students are heading to the office to request use of the school’s phone to contact a parent. Parents must rely on the office to accurately take and deliver messages to their children. Commonly, parents need to notify their children of a change in after-school transportation plans. It is now becoming the office staff’s job to relay these important matters.
Students are learning to adapt to life without their phones when on break from class time. During breaks like lunch or recess, some children initially felt at a loss when made to be without their devices. These are social issues the law has been designed to improve. Many students are now learning active and healthy ways to socialize differently with their peers. Reports of feeling safer as well as being more focused are widespread throughout the country.
What Parents Think
At home, parents are noticing the effects created by the ban. In many circumstances, children are returning home with positive reports about their day at school. Healthy habits are what parents want for their children. When their children are sent off to school, parents expect them to learn in a safe environment. While many parents are having the pleasure of seeing their children improve from the ban, there are some parents who are disappointed in their country’s decision. Some parents feel inconvenienced at having to depend on the school to pass along messages to their students. Others do not understand how constant contact with a device may be harming their children. It is hard to understand a new law when one never recognized the problems it sets to right.
Even though the ban on cell phones seems lenient, it is affecting teachers, students, and their families in new ways. Each group is seeing both benefits and drawbacks of the new law. Learning to adapt to the ban has been a challenge for all.