As smartphones and other digital devices become ubiquitous, concerns over their impact on classroom behaviour and learning are growing. To address these concerns, the UK government has commissioned a review into the effects of technology on behaviour in schools.
The review is being led by Tom Bennett, a school behaviour expert who is already examining teacher training to tackle bad behaviour. Bennett has recommended that children should not be allowed smartphones until they are 16, except under adult supervision. Teachers should also only allow them if necessary, he said.
Why Did the UK Government Commission This Review?
The UK government launched this investigation into the impact of technology on behaviour in schools in response to concerns from teachers and officials about the disruptive effects of digital devices in the classroom.
While technology can enhance learning, teachers have reported that the growing number of children bringing smartphones and tablets to class is leading to distraction, cyberbullying, and other behavioural issues.The government is therefore seeking to understand the challenges of managing modern classrooms in the digital age and provide guidance to schools on how to address these issues.
Why Are People Concerned About Teenagers Using Smartphones?
One of the main concerns is the potential for exposure to inappropriate content, such as pornography or violent images, which can have negative effects on their development and mental health. Additionally, smartphones can be a source of distraction in the classroom, leading to lower academic performance and interfering with the learning process.
There are also concerns about the impact of excessive screen time on children’s physical health, including poor posture, eye strain, headaches, and neck pain. This can be especially concerning for teens who are still developing physically and may carry these problems into adulthood, needing corrective measures such as physiotherapy to live pain-free lives.
Experts are also concerned about the effect that smartphones have on sleep quality. The blue light emitted by smartphones can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, and daytime drowsiness, which can negatively impact how well teens perform in school, and in their extracurricular activities.
Finally, there are concerns about the potential for cyberbullying and other online risks that children may not be equipped to handle on their own. British teens who spend five or more hours a day on social media are at two to three times greater risk of self-harm than their less-online peers. The link between smartphone use and mental health conditions has been evident for some time now.
There is also a question on the financial cost of smartphones, especially during a cost of living crisis and how the average smartphone costs a teenager more than £500 per year, which could be a big saving for some households whilst teaching kids how to budget.
Why Is This Review Receiving Pushback?
Many have criticised the call to ban smartphones for children under 16 due to the positive effects smartphones can have on education. Smartphones provide instant access to a vast amount of information and educational resources, as well as watching videos that may simplify difficult topics on their courses.
Some critics argue that a smartphone ban would be an infringement on parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s use of technology. They say that it should be up to parents, not the government, to decide when their children are ready to use smartphones.