Almost half of UK parents want their child’s school to ban mobile phones over fears about the distraction they pose, new research suggests.
A survey found that 49 per cent of respondents wanted the devices banned from the classroom.
And almost nine in ten parents – 88 per cent – were concerned about their children going to school with expensive gadgets. According to the research, the average child in the UK carries £301 worth of expensive technology with them.
More than a quarter of parents – 27 per cent – said they had thought of downgrading their child’s smartphone to a “dumb-phone” that can only be used to call or text so that their child is less distracted.
This week, a leaked briefing document from the Department of Education suggested the government would back headteachers in the banning of mobile phones.
But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said talk of banning mobile phones from schools could seem “retrograde” and that the most important thing was to teach young people to use technology responsibly.
“We need to remind ourselves that it’s parents’ responsibility to control their child’s access to a mobile phone,” he said.
“Secondly, some of the nuance of this gets lost. Most parents would think it’s a good idea for their child to carry a phone in case of emergencies. In most schools I visit, I never see a mobile phone."
However, he said blanket bans risked making the teaching profession seem unreasonable.
In some cases, teachers might allow students to take a photo of homework instructions or a PowerPoint slide.
And he pointed out that “iPads can be hugely helpful for children with special educational needs.
“Instead of banning, let’s talk about when technology is appropriate to use and when it is not.”
“Otherwise we are setting ourselves up as a Luddite profession.”
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, the site that carried out the survey, said: "It is understandable that parents are concerned about the potential distractions facing their children, but banning phones from schools is not as straightforward as it sounds, especially since technology is an integral part of modern life."