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15 June, 2024
 
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Smartphones out, learning in

UN report urges global ban on mobile phones in schools for enhanced education

According to a recent UN report, smartphones should be prohibited in schools worldwide as a measure to address student distraction, enhance learning outcomes, and safeguard children from online bullying.

UNESCO, the UN agency responsible for education, science, and culture, cited substantial scientific evidence linking excessive mobile phone usage to poor academic performance and its impact on children's emotional well-being.

The report emphasizes the importance of maintaining a "human-centered vision" of education, with digital technology, including artificial intelligence, always subordinate to face-to-face interactions with teachers. The organization warns policymakers about hasty adoption of digital tools, suggesting that the positive impact on learning outcomes and cost-effectiveness may be overestimated, highlighting that not all technological advancements represent genuine progress.

As education increasingly moves online, especially in universities, the report urges officials not to overlook the "social dimension" of education, emphasizing the significance of physical presence and in-person teaching.

In the context of artificial intelligence, the report raises concerns about the push for personalized educational programs, stressing the need to preserve the essence of education and not lose sight of its fundamental goals.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay emphasized that digital technology should serve to enhance learning experiences and promote student and teacher well-being rather than becoming a detriment. The report underscores the importance of putting learners' needs first and supporting teachers, emphasizing that online connections cannot replace human interaction.

UNESCO calls on countries to establish clear goals and principles to ensure that digital technology in education benefits students and avoids any potential harm, such as privacy infringements and the propagation of online hate.

Based on its analysis of education systems in approximately 200 countries, UNESCO estimates that one in four countries has either legally banned smartphones in classrooms or regulated their use within schools. Notably, France implemented such a law in 2018, while the Netherlands is preparing restrictions scheduled to take effect in 2024.

In response to the initiative, the Dutch Minister of Education stated that protecting students from distractions is crucial to enabling proper concentration and effective studying, as scientific studies indicate that mobile phones can lead to decreased focus and attention.

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Cyprus  |  technology  |  education  |  schools  |  phones

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