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French schools ban mobile phones, as parents say the UK should be next

By Sky News

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Mobile phones have been banned in primary and middle schools in France

(SKY NEWS) – Mobile phones have been banned for primary and middle school pupils in France amid a government drive to improve focus and prevent online bullying.

The government passed a law banning their use during the school day, with exceptions for disabled children and in case of an emergency.

French high schools, which take pupils aged 15 and over, are able to put their own rules in place.

It comes as studies of British adults show up to 70% believe a similar move should be implemented in the UK.

A poll commissioned by cyber security specialists ESET found that most parents think mobile phones should be banned, and 93% think there should be greater governance of mobile phone use during school hours.

The UK poll revealed parents are most concerned about their child being distracted by a phone during class, followed closely by bullying fears.

Just a third of parents said they were concerned their child’s phone puts them at risk of online predators.

A separate survey commissioned by Internet Matters found 59% of parents thought phones should be banned in schools, with 51% saying they shouldn’t be able to take them to and from school.

According to the group, 72% of Year 7 pupils have smartphones.

Chief executive Carolyn Bunting said: “Giving a child a smartphone can give parents peace of mind and it offers children fantastic opportunities to learn, communicate and explore. But if children aren’t prepared – they can face many digital challenges including managing friendship groups, pressure to have social media or even pressure to play certain games.

“Parents have a major role to play in equipping their children with the right tools to navigate their online world – especially during this pivotal moment when they’re facing a raft of change.”

The Internet Matters study also found a higher rate of concern around cyberbullying, and children being pushed to share images online.

French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the law aims to prevent thefts and violence, reduce bullying, and improve focus in lessons as well as communication between pupils.

Children must turn their phones off or shut them away in lockers, and teachers are able to confiscate them until the end of the day if pupils break the law.

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