A boy getting distracted on his smartphone, Source: Depositphotos

Catalonia is the latest to (mostly) ban smartphones in schools

Catalonia is the latest to (mostly) ban smartphones in schools

More specifically, the full prohibition will apply to primary and middle school children

When the new school year begins in September, Catalan children will have to leave their mobile phones at home before heading to class. The new restrictive measure was announced by the Catalan Department of Education indicating that the full ban on personal devices will apply to students aged 6-12. Those between 12 and 16, that is secondary school kids, will be able to use smartphones but only for educational purposes – and that’s if the specific school decides to allow it.

What the senior students will have to do is completely turn off their phones before entering the classroom and if they’re caught breaking the rule, their devices will be confiscated.

Parents-led initiative

Reportedly, the idea originated somewhere in a parents’ WhatsApp group in November 2023. It quickly gathered popularity and snowballed to the extent that an initiative called 'Adolescència lliure de mòbil' (A phone-free youth) was born out of it.

Parents argued that they are not against technology in general but that they would like to provide kids with a childhood that has some breathing space from constant screen use and online content consumption – the kind of childhood they themselves had enjoyed in the not-so-distant past.

The parents also stated that there is a lot of peer pressure to buy a phone for their children because if they don't, their children will be the only ones in the class without one, which in turn complicates the parent-child relationship.

What’s amazing is also how quickly the regional government heard the plea and responded to the grassroots initiative with a regulation. The authorities launched a participatory process to gather the opinions of teachers, families and students. Intentions turned into action and thus Catalonia will join countries like France, Italy and Finland where similar bans have already been instituted. The Netherlands will also prohibit smartphones in the classroom this year.



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