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British minister calls for cellphones ban in schools

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-02-03 00:42
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LONDON, Feb. 2 -- Britain's schools minister Nick Gibb called on Saturday for a cellphone ban in schools to help students concentrate on learning.

In an interview with the London-based Times newspaper, Gibb said evidence of the negative effect of phone use on children's development and mental health is mounting.

The minister expressed concern that too many children are using mobile phones at night and arriving at school the next day tired.

"I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own use at home. Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it's an hour less exercise and it's an hour less sleep. And of course it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child's mental health," Gibb told The Times.

He also said the government is to introduce lessons for students on how to limit their screen time.

Guidance being drawn up by the Department for Education (DfE) will require students to be taught about the dangers of excessive use, said the minister.

He said head teachers should set the tone by banning use of the devices in schools.

"Schools obviously are free to set their own behavior policies but my own view is that schools should ban mobile (cellphone) telephones and smartphones inside school, and particularly inside classrooms," he added.

The report said some schools have already banned the use of cellphones outright and others have restricted their use in lessons or during playtime.

It cites a study by the London School of Economics (LSE) which found that banning phones in schools resulted in test scores rising by more than 6 percent.

However, the National Association National Association of Head Teachers warned that a ban on phones would "cause more problems than it solves".

A spokeswoman for the association warned it could "drive phone use underground, making problems less visible and obvious for schools to tackle".

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said last month that children should not look at screens within an hour of going to bed, and recommended that parents set a good example.

A separate study of data from 11,000 children found that teenagers who spent long hours on social media were twice as likely to show symptoms of depression, with girls being affected more.

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