Years from now, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph, we’ll talk about the period when we allowed mobile phones in schools “in the same amused, incredulous tones with which we remember people being allowed to smoke on planes”. It’s not just the vast amount of time young Britons spend looking at screens – 44 hours a week on average, the equivalent of “almost two whole days”. It’s also the bullying. The “manipulation and sharing of images”, most often for sexual harassment and fat shaming. The filming of organised fights for social media likes. Opponents of a ban insist that mobiles keep children safe on the walk to and from school. But the solution to that is easy: you hand over your device when you arrive and pick it up again when you leave.
All of which is why I was delighted when Gavin Williamson, the then education secretary, said last June that he wanted to make the school day “mobile-free”. It seemed like an “easy win” – a bold move that would change “childhoods (and therefore lives) across the country in one fell swoop”. Alas, last week Williamson’s successor, Nadhim Zahawi, “quietly ditched” the promised blanket ban and instead said it was up to headteachers to decide. What a cop out – and what a shame. There are plenty of “impossibly complex issues” with which the government has to wrangle. “This is not one of them.”
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