Skip to content

France to Ban Cell Phones in Lower Grades

December 11, 2017

An issue that poses major distraction in classrooms around the globe: Student usage of cellular technology.

And because of both the convenience and widespread usage of cell phones, contemporary teachers and admin are faced with student cell phone usage as both a distraction to classroom learning and a student safety issue (i.e., cyberbullying and potential student privacy liability issues).

In an effort to confront student dependence upon cellular technology, younger students, who attend French école or collège, students up to 15 years of age, are to be affected by a cell phone ban, not those attending lycée, or the three years of French high school.

French minister of education Jean-Michel Blanquer has confirmed that beginning in September 2018, students will be totally forbidden from using cell phones at the lower grades of school. As of the 2017-18 school year, French students are able to use their cell phones as the December 11, 2017, Telegraph notes, “at breaks, lunch times and between lessons.”

blanquer  Jean-Michel Blanquer

According to the December 11, 2017, Local Fr:

“These days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that’s a problem,” said Blanquer. …

“It’s important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens,” he added.

Blanquer is not calling for younger students to leave phones at home, which could present problems with parents and children keeping in contact. Instead, Blanquer’s “total ban” involves banning student access to cell phones during the school day by their being “locked away” and available during the school day, as Blanquer states, “for teaching purposes or in cases of emergency.”

In a September 13, 2017, interview with l’Express, Blanquer observes,

Il s’agit là encore de faire respecter les règles et le droit. L’usage des téléphones est déjà interdit en classe. Avec les principaux, les professeurs et les parents nous devons trouver le moyen de protéger nos élèves de la dispersion occasionnée par les écrans et les téléphones. En conseil des ministres, nous déposons nos portables dans des casiers avant de nous réunir. Il me semble que cela est faisable pour tout groupe humain, y compris une classe.

(This is again about enforcing the rules and the law. The use of telephones is already forbidden in class. With the principals, teachers and parents we must find a way to protect our students from the dispersion caused by screens and phones. In the Council of Ministers, we put our portable devices in lockers before we meet. It seems to me that this is feasible for any human group, including a class.)

Blanquer has not yet ironed out a specific plan for his total ban. He notes the possibility of collecting student phones at the beginning of the school day and returning at the end, but critics note that keeping track of the phones– and keeping them safe from damage or theft– could pose quite a challenge in schools with several hundred students.

As an American high school teacher, I do not allow students to use their cell phones in my classroom, and I collect phones from students who defy the rule. According to our school policy, I collect the phone, tag it with the student’s name, and turn it in to the office with an accompanying discipline referral.

To curb my liability for the cost of the phone, I do not keep the phone in my classroom, and I do not send the phone to the office by another student.

Even though Blanquer’s focus is on the lower grades and not high school, I think collecting phones at the beginning of the day would still present a great liability for the school/teacher and adds to the bureaucratic burden of the school, especially in returning phones “for teaching purposes” and recollecting them.

It’s not that I think student addiction to cell phones is not a health issue. (I believe modern addiction to technology is problematic for many adults, as well.) It is just an issue that is hard to combat.

And now, I see increasing numbers of students wearing Smart watches– which pose the same problems as cell phones but are even more difficult to monitor in the classroom.

My best to Blanquer as he details his plan for his lower-grades cell phone ban.

This battle promises to be a tough one.

cell phone ban


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Fascinating policy, with the consequences not fully understood. Next up, insurance policies for the risk to schools and teachers who confiscate the mobile devices and watches. I suppose that a really hard look at the necessity and cost/benefits for these devices in school is off the table.
    Best use, in my opinion, is for emergency communication.

  2. Erich Martel permalink

    Ca va! – et merci, M. Blanquer!

  3. This is absolutely fantastic news! I hope that many others follow suit and this becomes the the norm.

    • Oh that this effort might at least bring about the crucial conversation concerning what endless screentime is doing to our children’s bodies, brains, eyes and ears.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s