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Should Mobile Phones Be Banned in Schools?
East China's Shandong Province has prohibited students from using both phones and tablets in schools and colleges
Pros and Cons | VOL.10 December ·2018-12-04


For some time now, mobile phones have become indispensable and ubiquitous tools in our daily lives. Despite their convenience, they have also brought about new problems, especially among the youth. According to a study published in October, nearly seven out of 10 Chinese schoolchildren own at least one smartphone. 

To tackle this new phenomenon, east China's Shandong Province has, since November this year, implemented a new regulation on the promotion of physical health among the province's students. According to the regulation, students are strictly prohibited from using both phones and tablets in schools and colleges. 

Such a prohibition is not a first: France has banned smartphones in class and "during any teaching activity" since September. However, these new measures have sparked a number of debates and discussions in China. 

For proponents of this ban, the use of phones in primary and secondary schools encroaches on study time and physical exercise, which affects both the sight and health of minors. Opponents of the ban, for their part, believe that the prohibition is unreasonable as the issue is more of a clash between a traditional education system and the information age. In place of a clear cut ban, children should be taught to make better use of their phones, which would be more constructive than a zero-tolerance approach. 

Pros 

SUN WEI 

Deputy Director of the Shandong Provincial Institute for the Prevention of Eye Diseases Among Teenagers 

Excessive use of smart-phones has seriously harmed the eyesight of young Chinese. According to the World Health Organization, China has the world's highest rate of childhood myopia, and by 2020, the number of myopic Chinese will reach 700 million. Myopia not only causes life-long problems, but also has a negative impact on young people's future job opportunities. Moreover, smartphones also harm the mental health of children. According to studies, the brain of a child under 10 absorbs 60 percent more electromagnetic radiation than that of an adult. This can affect the normal functions of minors' nervous systems, leading to sleep disorder, headaches and memory loss. Addiction to the virtual world will certainly reduce the number of opportunities children have to communicate with their peers and prevent them from having a good understanding of the real world, which, in the long run, may lead to mental illnesses such as autism. 

ZHANG HAIZE 

Director of the Office of Hualong No.1 Middle School of Puyang, Henan 

Students should not bring their smartphones to class. First, students should focus on their academic studies. Using smartphones in class seriously affects a pupil's ability to focus and listen in class. Its uncontrolled use may lead to a large number of incivilities and disturbances occasionally reported in educational establishments. Second, smartphones can arouse social inferiority, leading to jealousy, racketeering and theft among classmates. Finally, the use of smartphones in schools is likely to compromise the overall quality of social life, which is essential for students to develop themselves and flourish. Elementary and high school students are at a stage of growth, in which their vision of the future is not yet defined and their self-control ability is relatively weak. It is therefore our imperative responsibility to protect students against smartphones. 

DENG YONGHONG 

Mother of a middle school student living in Changsha, Hunan 

The use of smartphones on campus will negatively influence children's lives. First, smartphones are sometimes used as tools for cyberstalking and provide easy access to violent and pornographic images via the Internet. Second, the presence of smartphones in schools can also lead to an unhealthy competition between children, who come from different families with different economic backgrounds. In addition, the need to equip every child with a phone will eventually increase the economic burden on families. 

Cons 

XU CHUN 

Teacher at Beijing No. 5 High School 

The use of smartphones on campus has a lot of benefits. The most obvious one is that children can keep in touch with news and the outside world. We are living in the Internet era and electronic products are not a curse. On the contrary, they can broaden children's horizon, help them acquire more knowledge, and allow them to cultivate their ability to learn independently. In addition, online courses can be taken via smartphones, which can further stimulate students' interest in learning. Moreover, smartphones allow children to stay in touch with their parents, school and teachers in case of an emergency. Some classes have even created their own group on WeChat, allowing parents and teachers to create a culture of open communication and mutual understanding. 

YIN FEI 

Official of Nanjing Normal University 

What we need to ban is the unhealthy information, addictive online games and violent content, not the smartphone. Today, children are born in an Internet era and we cannot stop them from coming into contact with the modern technology. Smartphones, as technological tools, are part of the trend in social development and are an extension of our eyesight and hearing. Schools and teachers should make the most out of smartphones in their learning activities, rather than seeking to ban high-technologies on campus. Moreover, an excellent teacher should be able to capture the attention of the students through giving good and interesting lectures. Thus, banishing smartphones is useless, and may lead to even more conflicts between schools and students. 

XIONG BINGQI 

Vice President of the 21st Century Education Research Institute 

While the ban's initial intent is good, its method is a bit radical. In children's daily life, smartphones are far from being the only temptation. There are also computers, television, fast food, pets and toys. Should we ban all this? Won't children growing up in a world without any temptation be too fragile? They will not always be under the constant supervision of parents and school teachers. We must cultivate their self-control abilities, so that they can use these tools while better controlling their impulses. In addition, banning mobile phones on campus is an ineffective measure to solve the problems relating to excessive phone use among students. It therefore requires joint efforts, from schools, families and society. In this regard, parents should also be exemplary when using their smartphones, especially in the presence of their children. 

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