Minister of Education must ban the use of phones as learning tools in classrooms

Catherine Martin, Irelands Minister of Media, on the phone but not in school.

Total ban on ownership of smartphones for under-13s ‘fraught with difficulty’, Catherine Martin says

Secondary schools should prohibit the use of phones in classrooms as it is too distracting for students, according to calls made to Minister for Education Norma Foley. 

Countries where this smartphone ban has already failed

  • France
  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • At least 35 other countries.

Teachers' unions worldwide have complained that it is too stressful to enforce and call for greater support in the home from parents. Check availability for secondary school speaker

Senator Róisín Garvey of the Green party said it was a “huge concern” that many students still have their phones on them in classrooms and it was too much of a temptation to use it other than for schoolwork.

She said that “some schools even let students use the phone to take photographs or to use [Microsoft] Teams”, a workplace messaging app.

Other schools have a box at the top of the classroom and the phone has to go into the box, but there is no phone on students in classrooms,” Ms Garvey said.

Senator Seery Kearney, 'it is designed to capture youth at the cost of sport, physical activities, social development social interaction'

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"Parents" says Ms Seery Kearney “have a huge role maybe they don’t consider there are dangers”. "At the heart of this business model is an addictive piece of engineering that is designed to capture youth at the cost of sport, physical activities, social development social interaction”. 

Ms Seery Kearney, a member of the Irish Senate, pointed out that a consultative committee of teenagers “condemned the ownership of smartphones before the age of 13″. “Some of them had phones before the age of six,” she said “and they wished they’d never had a phone”.

Minister for Media Catherine Martin stated that banning smartphone ownership for under-13s raised complex questions about regulation and was "fraught with difficulty", though she understood the concern about the matter. The junior Minister cautioned against a blanket ban. “There are genuine reasons why parents might want or need their child to own a smartphone,” “Many parents, correctly, will feel that it should be their decision and they are the ones who know their children best.”

Ms Martin says regulating the matter there would be difficulty in identifying the “owner” of the phone and then identifying “who would be liable for sanction for a breach of any ban would be complicated, given that the purchaser and user of a phone are not necessarily the same. Banning an age cohort from owning a smartphone in one EU member state would raise issues with regard to the EU single market principles of freedom of movement of goods and services,” 

Norma Foley, Irelands Minister of Education

Ms Martin goes on to say -“while the concerns about children owning smartphones are understandable, the key issue appears to be one of access to social media and specifically access to social media applications on a smartphone by children, rather than ownership”. “For this reason, the Government is focusing on dealing with access and usage of smartphones through hybrid community and national initiatives,” Ms Martin said, including the policy guidance issued by the Minister for Education called “Keeping Childhood Smartphone Free”.

Neil Skinner, former police officer and UK GCHQ officer, and one of our speakers comments. Everyone wants to do something and perhaps even more importantly be seen to be doing something, Having worked in this area for decades, it will ultimately come down to parenting, Safeguarding compliance in Schools, and Teacher unions want to push this problem back out the school gate. Increasingly, Heads and Principals want this problem dealt with where the problem arose in the first place, at home. 

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