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French schools say ‘au revoir’ to smartphones — what if the U.S. dialed up a similar ban?




Teachers and students listen to US President Barack Obama at Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina, on June 6, 2013.
Teachers and students listen to US President Barack Obama at Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina, on June 6, 2013.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

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When school-age children in France return to classes next month, they’ll have to leave their smartphones at home.

This is thanks to a new law that bans students from age 3 to 15 from smartphone use anywhere on school grounds. There is an exception, however, ff teachers want students to use their devices to supplement a lesson.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to France’s education minister, the law is meant to remove distractions from classrooms and to encourage children to go outside during recess instead of spending the time looking at their phones. Guidelines that the French education ministry says will come out later this month will suggest that schools install a place where students can leave phones during school.

How effective are blanket bans on curbing distracting cell phone use in schools? What are the difficulties with enforcing such a policy at a district level? What does research say about the potential benefits of smartphones that may be ignored if they are outright banned from classrooms?

Guests:

Liz Kolb, clinical associate professor in education technologies at the University of Michigan, where she researches the effects of technology in the classroom, and author of several books on cell phone use in education; she tweets @lkolb

Anita Charles, lecturer in education and director of secondary teacher education at Bates College in Maine; she has published scholarly articles addressing technology, and in particular negotiating cell phone use, in the classroom