COLUMN: Kildare mum Ruth Chambers on why smartphones should be banned in schools

Opinion

Ruth Chambers

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Ruth Chambers

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ruth@itsjustaphase.ie

COLUMN: Kildare mum Ruth Chambers on why smartphones should be banned in schools

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Okay, so I’m not a parent of school-going children. Aidan and Sarah are both only in playschool. Nonetheless I have a very strong view of smartphones in schools.

They shouldn’t be in schools. Full stop. I’m actually so surprised that kids are allowed to have them in schools. Jesus, when I was in school, wearing make up was a sin of the highest order! Time have changed it seems.

Now before I mount my high horse, I want to be honest. I give my phone or tablet to the kids every now and again. So I’m not whiter than white in that department.

 I was listening to the radio the other day and the presenter was having a debate with her guests as to whether phones should be banned in schools. Of course they should! 

I then got to talking to some of my mammy friends who told me some kids even bring them in to primary schools. I had to pick my jaw up from the floor when I heard this! 

Some of my friends disagreed with me. One, the mother of a teenage son, says she needs to be able to contact him. He walks the two kilometre journey home. She calls him on the way to make sure he’s safe. In fact most of the mams I was talking to want their teenagers to be contactable. It’s a fair point.

But there’s a simple answer in my humble opinion. I think all schools should have a rule. If kids must have a phone in school, it can’t be a smartphone. Nor can it have an internet connection. It has to be a basic phone that only allows the user to text and make calls.

I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be allowed smartphone period. I’m saying that those smartphones shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near schools.

My mother has one of these basic phones. They are readily available and cheap. The kids can be contacted if needs be and they can contact their parents if needs be. Is it not just as simple as that? Am I missing something? To me it’s a no brainer.

One of my friends is a secondary school teacher. She told me what it’s like to be in a classroom these days. The kids ignore the current rules of leaving their phones off. They sit in class on Snapchat, on Facebook and on Instagram. They all Whatsapp each other throughout classes.

One kid was caught taking photos of her and sending them round the classroom and generally just taking the p*ss out of her.

If there was a blanket ban on smartphones in schools then none of this would happen. I just don’t understand why it’s not done.

Some suggest making the kids leave their smartphones in lockers. I’m told this is the case in a lot of schools but sure don’t you know half of them would not adhere to that rule! 

Taking the extremely worrying problem of cyber-bullying out of the equation, phones have to be massive distractions in schools. Also, are they allowed have their phones on them during lunch time? When I was in school there was nothing much to do at lunch so I played basketball. I was active. Either that I chatted with friends. Now they probably have their heads buried in smartphones. God, it’s so unhealthy.

I’m guilty of having my head buried in my own smartphone but nobody is cyber bullying me. I’m an adult. I know what’s dangerous online. That’s the big difference.

I’m dreading Aidan and Sarah reaching the age where they are looking for smartphones.

They are going to hate me because I’m going to be strict and hold out for as long as I can. Feck it though, it’s for their own good. They can have a phone like their granny has alright! I bet they will love me for that! Not! But I don’t care, I’m the adult. I’m the one in charge.

Make sure to come back to me in ten plus years and see how I’m getting on! Right, I’m dismounting the high horse now!

You can contact me on ruth@itsjustaphase.ie; Twitter - @_itsjustaphase_; Instagram - @itsjustaphaseblog, or you’ll find more of my musings at www.itsjustaphase.ie.