Banning phones in schools is an unrealistic utopia | Emma Kay

Is a digital detox in our schools really necessary?

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:01 pm
Should pupils be allowed mobile phones in school? Picture by Shutterstock
Should pupils be allowed mobile phones in school? Picture by Shutterstock

Phones are permanently perched in our hands like an ever-waiting bird eager to drink.

Whatever our age, we all use them habitually and more often than we would like to admit.

However, the education secretary Gavin Williams has said he wants a permanent ban on mobile phones in the classroom as he believes they are ‘misused’ and ‘overused’ and he wants to make the school day ‘mobile free’. Fine utopian words.

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In reality, the tremendously tired question of whether or not mobile phones should be used in schools is a long and lengthy one but the argument is seldom considered from the pupil’s point of view or those who work daily with pupils in the classroom.

The one school size does not fit all. It is narrow-minded to think that schools fall into one neatly folded umbrella. Each and every school up and down the country is a unique micro-society with a variable and many faceted way of operating.

Mobile phones are not just phones, which seems to be the main point, i.e. phone message checking, of the argument against them. They can be used to check when it is time to take medication, for timers in science experiments, to calm those with high anxiety, for timetables, research and reminders about homework. But most of all phones in our lives are now normal and a way for pupils to feel connected with the world and connected to their wellbeing and mental health.

Micromanaging schools to minimise behaviour on the basis of a piece of technology does not paint a picture of an educational secretary who knows what he is doing when it comes to the classroom or even the real world which you and I experience every day.

Mobile phones are not the paramount cause of poor behaviour in schools. It is and always has been low level disruptive behaviour in the classroom that affects your child’s education and can be caused by any number of things. Yes, they are an issue but the blame cannot solely rest on phones.

An outright permanent ban will merely make mobiles ‘contraband’ and more appealing to the young mind. It will also create a greater chasm between teacher and pupil that won’t help in the long run. It regrettably only demonstrates to our children that we have a lack of trust and respect for them.

We need to build bridges with an outstretched hand and not a closed fist.

We need to show pupils that we trust them. We need to promote responsibility not rigidity. Flexibility not forcibility. We need to empower our future generation and not squash it into submissive silence.

Hunting high and low for an elusive hamster

The Covid-driven pet purchase is still the must-have trend across the UK. Despite my continuous adventures in attempting to buy a hamster for my fiancé’s birthday I was met with the same ‘none available’ shake of the head over and over again.

I have been searching row after row of cages hoping for a fluffy bottom poking out of the sawdust and bedding but all in vain and disappointment.

Three weeks of wandering and phoning pet stores led me to the question, where have all the hamsters been hiding?

According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, 3.2m houses in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic. Social isolation creates a very real need for a furry friend. Capacity crackdown has meant a lot of empty cages in stores.

It’ll be a while before we are flooded with the furry little creatures again.

We can keep wearing masks, even if we don’t have to

After Freedom Day on 19th July it seems masks will become a ‘personal choice’ for many with varying conclusions about wearing one when out and about.

There is a trust for people to exercise good judgment after recent rising infections with the British Medical Association warning that masks should be left on for a little longer.

This morally muggy decision may lead to some surprises. People may merit common sense and continue to use masks but there is a cloud of doubt forming that is simmering into a storm. Will we be strong in our mask responsibility or are we going to see a mass mask burning? Are people going to leave the masks at home just because they can or make the right choice?

Lockdown lifting should not be taken lightly, we have got this far. We can’t let our common sense fade away from fanciful freedom. Mask on.

Don’t muck this up.