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20 June 2018

United Kingdom: Matt Hancock, Culture Secretary: Schools Across the UK Should Ban Mobile Phones

Hancock told the Guardian last week that he does not allow his children to have their own phones or to use social media, but dismissed the idea of legislating to stop their use in schools.

Matt Hancock: schools across the UK should ban mobile phones
by Kevin Rawlinson, The Guardian, 20 June2018

The culture secretary who heads up the digital brief says tech makes parenting harder

Matt Hancock believes schools can do more to stop pupils
being distracted by their phones.  Photo:  PA
The culture secretary has called on more schools to ban mobile phones.

Matt Hancock said he admired those headteachers who did not allow their use during the school day and linked social media use with the problem of bullying among young children.

Hancock told the Guardian last week that he does not allow his children to have their own phones or to use social media, but dismissed the idea of legislating to stop their use in schools.

And, he returned to the subject in an article for Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph, in which he put the onus on headteachers.

He said: “Technology makes being a parent much harder. And schools have a big role too. I enthusiastically support using technology for teaching. But we also need to teach children how to stay safe with technology. Why do young children need phones in schools?

“There are a number of schools across the country that simply don’t allow them. I believe that very young children don’t need to have access to social media. While it is up to individual schools to decide rather than government, I admire headteachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day. I encourage more schools to follow their lead. The evidence is that banning phones in schools works.

“Studies have shown mobile phones can have a real impact on working memory and fluid intelligence, even if the phone is on a table or in a bag.”

Last week, Hancock – whose brief includes digital policy – told the Guardian he believed “parents have a responsibility to ensure that children use technology appropriately. For instance, I allow my children to do their homework online, but I don’t let them on to social media”.

He added: “They don’t have access to the devices. They don’t have phones. Why do they need phones? They’re children, they’re 11.”

Hancock said the government had a responsibility to ensure internet companies “properly police their own terms and conditions”. But he dismissed suggestions the UK government should follow the lead of its French counterpart, which has banned mobile phones on school premises.

In his Telegraph article, Hancock said: “Modern digital technology is a powerful force for good ... But with all of the exciting doors that the internet opens, like any new technology it brings challenges, especially for our children.

“We all recognise children need more protection on the internet. If a child is being bullied during the day and they have access to social media, the bullying doesn’t necessarily stop when they walk out of the school gate. I want bullying to be as unacceptable online as it is in the playground.”


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