Chinese Ministry of Education has banned the use of smartphones in classrooms and on school grounds. The ban will apply to all primary and secondary education across the country. According to the spokesman of the education authority, this ban was aimed at “protecting the students’ eyesight, making them focus on study and preventing internet and games addictions.”
Widespread use of mobile phones in schools has become a tough problem in China. From a report released by the China Internet Network Information Centre, in 2019, China had 175 million internet users under the age of 18, with 74 per cent reportedly having their own mobile device.
This directive prohibits elementary and secondary school pupils bringing their cell phones onto the campus, except when they get parental approval along with a school’s written permission form.
“This protective measure is necessary for teenagers. In the period of primary school, children have nothing to use smartphones in class. It just distracts their minds from studies,” said Zhiyun Li, a mother of a four-grade primary school student.
Apart from the official notice for schools, the ministry said home upbringing cannot be ignored because the behaviour of adults plays a significant role in shaping children’s habits and life. Parents need to consider carefully before equipping their children with mobile phones.
Jiaqi Liu, a young middle school teacher in Shanghai says: “Parents should intervene when their children show signs of overuse of cell phones. However, during holidays, many parents allow their children to use their mobile phones unrestrained, encouraging the formation of mobile phone addiction.”
Debate over the use of smartphones in Chinese schools has regularly erupted in recent years. There are also different voices speaking to this ban.
Hongyan Chen, an education professor of Huazhong University of Science and Technology says: “Rather than fully prohibiting it, schools should manage to cultivate the kids’ self-control ability and tell them the difference between real and virtual worlds; between good and bad habits.”
“Mobile phones are not the only thing to blame,” she added.
However, this ministry’s statement appears to be widely supported.
When this ban is implemented, schools are required to establish public phones for their students talking to parents without relying on own smartphones.