United Nations calls for smartphones to be banned in schools

Unesco, the UN’s education, science, and culture agency, wants smartphones to be banned in schools to improve learning, reduce disruptions, and protect learners from cyberbullying.

In its report, the agency said evidence shows that excessive smartphone use among learners was linked to poor educational performance and impacted their emotional stability.

Unesco believes digital technology, including artificial intelligence, shouldn’t trump a “human-centred vision” of education and should never be a barrier to face-to-face interaction with educators.

“Not all change constitutes progress. Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done,” it wrote.

Audrey Azoulay, director general at Unesco, believes people should be calling for technology in education to be regulated, similarly to how they have called for it in society.

“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,” The Guardian quoted Azoulay as saying.

“Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the wellbeing of students and teachers, not to their detriment.”

She emphasised that the needs of learners must be put first.

“Online connections are no substitute for human interaction,” added Azoulay.

In its report, Unesco cited wide-reaching international data that shows a negative link between excessive digital technology use and educational performance.

It also noted that although the use of technology in education can be beneficial, poorer students around the world don’t often see these benefits as they are effectively excluded.

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United Nations calls for smartphones to be banned in schools