This month, as students head back after the summer break, schools in France have been busy implementing a mobile phone ban, which has come into force after a new law was passed forbidding the use of phones, tablets and smart watches by children on school playgrounds and at break times – or in other words, as soon as children arrive at school until the end of the day when they leave.
French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear from his election campaign that he wanted to outlaw children’s phones in nursery, primary and middle-schools (or until around the age of 15), in what he called a ‘detox’ law for a younger generation that was increasingly becoming addicted to screens. Legislation was already passed in 2010 stating that children should not use phones in class. Now that phones are banned anywhere on the school premises, his political party says that children have the legal ‘right to disconnect’ from digital pressures throughout their school day.
It is hoped that the ban will help children make friends more easily and help to tackle online bullying during school time. It could also encourage children to be more physically active at break time.
With more than 90% of French children aged between 12 and 17 now owning a mobile phone, it has long been debated how these devices should be managed in schools. Opposing parties have questioned how French schools are going to successfully enforce the ban, and it has been left up to individual schools to decide how to deal with it.
A key recommendation from politicians to schools is the use of lockers – in the same way that Government ministers place their phone in a box before cabinet meetings, they think children should place their mobiles in some sort of secure multi device charging station. Because the new law will still allow mobile phones to be brought into schools, teachers need to find a way of securing and storing them so that they can be kept safely away from individual students.
An ideal solution would be the FUYL Tower charging locker from LocknCharge – an intelligent powered locker designed to individually store, charge and secure almost any mobile device, including mobile phones. Through a simple and easy to use secure digital locking system, children can charge and secure their devices until they collect them at the end of the day. Teachers can rest assured that mobiles will be ‘surrendered’ at the beginning of the school day, there is a much lesser chance of devices being either lost or stolen, and children have the added benefit of leaving school with a fully charged phone.
The FUYL Tower is made up of 15 compartments that throughout a school day can service up to 100 students. Children enter a four-digit PIN from the digital keypad, and the FUYL Tower will automatically allocate an available compartment. They then insert and connect their device (USB or outlet), close the compartment and enter the four-digit PIN again. The same four-digit PIN re-opens the compartment when the student comes to collect their device later.
Where the FUYL Tower becomes unique is in what it can do ‘behind the scenes’. Teachers have control to remote access admin, where they have the opportunity to see how many locker compartments are occupied or available in real-time. If a student forgets their PIN, teachers can unlock compartments from a remote location. The FUYL Tower provides schools with a full audit trail and time-stamped events. For schools who are concerned about budgets, they will know how often the FUYL Tower is used, when it is used and more. This intelligent data logging and statistical analysis is unique to LocknCharge and will help schools to make future purchasing decisions. Staff can use the ‘master override’ options to control the FUYL Tower both on-site and off-site, safely and securely.
What about mobile phone use in schools around the world?
Not every country believes mobile phones are a hindrance to learning – in fact, in 2015 the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, lifted a 10-year ban on phones on school premises to ‘enable parents to stay in touch with their children’ and ‘end the inequity under the current ban, which was enforced mostly at schools with metal detectors in low-income communities’.
In the UK, school policies on mobile devices vary massively, from outright bans to some teachers actually encouraging personal phones and tablets to be used as part of lessons. In fact, a ‘bring your own device’ (or BYOD) scheme can be a fantastic cost-saving solution, with 29% of UK secondary schools now having some form of BYOD in place and a further 26% exploring it.* Some schools choose to ban phone usage amongst younger students, but let older students use them as a way of treating them as responsible users. Some teachers encourage students to take pictures, do some filming or look something up with their own mobiles.
In this case, the FUYL Tower is the ideal solution for children who are turning up to school with mobiles and tablets that need charging. Gone are the days of children sitting by plug sockets, charging their devices while using them!
Ultimately, we are sure that as technology is constantly evolving, policy may change in the future. To ensure our unit is ‘future proofed’, FUYL Towers are upgradable so that schools can benefit from software/firmware updates as the product evolves. Only time will tell the effect the French mobile ban will have on its future generation.
For more information about the use of the LocknCharge FUYL Tower in schools, click here.
*Research by RM Education