By Matilde Bechet
What if you were challenged not to look at your cell phone for an entire day? Seems impossible, right? How about an hour? Ask yourself: can you really detach yourself from your device?
Consider the fact that there are fellow humans in other countries who don’t even have wifi, let alone cellphones. So, why is it that the OBHS community cannot live without them? Well, it’s an issue that France is addressing.
France’s Education Minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, announced that when students return to school in September of 2018, cellphones will not be allowed in schools for children 15 years and younger.
According to National Public Radio, phones in France had already been banned from elementary and secondary schools in 2010, and students were expected to keep them inside their backpacks. However, students did not always follow these rules. As a result, stricter guidelines were imposed, leading to this most recent ban.
According to NPR, “The stricter rules will mean that students can’t look at their phones during lunch or between classes.”
Even Jean-Michel Blanquer will have to place his cell phone in a “locker” during meetings of the Council of Ministers. Blanquer makes a fair point in that if he uses his phone during work meetings, why should he expect students to keep theirs away? It’s important to lead by example.
There are also parents’ opinions to consider with regard to the ban. When former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started enforcing a similar ban in NYC’s schools, it received pushback from Mayor Bill de Blasio. Parents voiced concerns about not being able to contact their children throughout the day. But, don’t schools have main office phones so parents can communicate with their children if there’s an emergency that must be addressed? Or is a question such as “What would you like to eat for dinner?” one that must be answered during class?
Some parents in France weren’t initially fans of the new ban considering their children may walk home alone from school; these parents believe the cell phone acts as a safety tool. However, children will be permitted to utilize their phones after leaving the school’s premises, which should alleviate these concerns.
It’s time other countries besides France begin to take action. Yes, we are living in changing times, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept disengagement and disrespect within our schools. Serious restrictions must be implemented in order to allow children to truly receive the quality education they deserve.
The Oyster Bay community should follow France’s lead and apply a similar ban in all schools.