UNESCO is calling for a global ban on smartphones in schools

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UNESCO believes smartphones should be banned from schools, as they distract students and don’t really contribute to the learning process.

The UN’s educational organization has launched a global new report on technology in education, calling for governments around the world to regulate its use. 

Called, “Technology in education: A tool on whose terms?”, the report argues that when used in excess, or without the presence of a qualified teacher, any benefits technology in the classroom might have - disappear. 

Learning experience

“The digital revolution holds immeasurable potential but, just as warnings have been voiced for how it should be regulated in society, similar attention must be paid to the way it is used in education. Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the well-being of students and teachers, not to their detriment”, warns Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO. 

“Keep the needs of the learner first and support teachers. Online connections are no substitute for human interaction.”

UNESCO essentially accused governments around the world of not putting learners first, and doing very little to regulate an important aspect of society: Simply distributing computers to students does very little in terms of improving education, if teachers aren’t involved in the pedagogical process, UNESCO said. Furthermore, it added that “fewer than a quarter” of countries currently ban the use of smartphones in schools. 

Teaching children how to use technology responsibly should also be a part of their learning experience, argues Manos Antoninins, Director of the Report. “We need to teach children to live both with and without technology; to take what they need from the abundance of information, but to ignore what is not necessary; to let technology support, but never supplant human interactions in teaching and learning.”

While UNESCO focused on the classroom in this report, excess smartphone use among the younger population is a much wider issue, with some researchers claiming children’s attention spans have dropped, many have become emotionally unstable, and if left without a smartphone for a prolonged period of time, some will even develop suicidal thoughts. 

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.