NEWS AI: UN Urges Restriction on Smartphones in Schools: Striking a Balance for Enhanced Learning

In a recent development, the United Nations has raised concerns about the pervasive use of smartphones in educational settings. Unesco, the UN's education, science, and culture agency, emphasized that only technology which facilitates learning should be permitted within schools. The report highlighted potential issues caused by mobile devices, including distractions, privacy risks, and cyberbullying. While acknowledging the importance of technology in education, the report called for clearer guidelines on appropriate usage. This article examines the UN's call for a ban on smartphones in schools and explores the various perspectives surrounding this contentious issue.

The UN's Standpoint:

Manos Antoninis, the author of the 2023 Global Education Monitor report, unequivocally stated that only technology that supports learning should have a place in schools. The report revealed a concerning fact - less than one in four countries have laws or policies prohibiting mobile phones in schools. This indicates the pressing need for global attention and collaborative efforts to address the challenges posed by smartphones in educational environments.

Improved Academic Performance:

Numerous studies have shown that banning mobile phones from schools can lead to significant improvements in academic performance. By eliminating potential distractions, students can focus better on their studies and engage more actively in classroom activities. This, in turn, fosters a conducive learning environment and enhances overall educational outcomes.

The Student Perspective:

While the majority of experts advocate for restricting smartphone usage in schools, some students argue that smartphones can be a valuable source of connection and support, especially during difficult times. For example, Lexi, a 16-year-old student, stressed the importance of having access to smartphones to reach out to someone for help and support when needed. Balancing the need for connectivity and emotional support with the potential distractions is a critical aspect to consider when formulating policies.

Varying Approaches Across Countries:

Different countries have adopted diverse approaches to regulate smartphone use in schools. Bangladesh implemented a complete ban on mobile phones in classrooms back in 2017, while France has a similar ban but with exceptions for students with disabilities and when smartphones are used for educational purposes. The Netherlands is planning to impose a mostly comprehensive ban on mobile phones, tablets, and smartwatches in secondary school classrooms from the next academic year. These varying approaches highlight the complexity of the issue and the need for context-specific solutions.

The UK's Approach:

In the UK, the Department for Education offers guidance on smartphone usage during the school day but leaves the final decision to head teachers. Former education secretary Gavin Williamson had previously advocated for a complete ban on mobile phones in schools, but the current stance suggests that head teachers should consider restrictions based on potential risks, such as distractions, disruptions, cyberbullying, and adverse effects on learning. The flexible approach allows schools to adapt policies based on their specific circumstances.

Differing Opinions:

Within communities and families, opinions on the matter of smartphone use in schools vary widely. Some argue that mobile phones expose children to inappropriate content and disrupt their learning experience. On the other hand, others view smartphones as essential tools for staying in touch with parents and ensuring safety during travel. School leaders' union NAHT's head of policy Sarah Hannafin emphasized that while a blanket ban might work for some schools, it could pose challenges for others.


The UN's call for a ban on smartphones in schools has ignited a crucial debate about the role of technology in education. Striking a balance between leveraging technology for enhanced learning and mitigating potential distractions and risks is essential. Countries around the world are implementing diverse approaches to regulate smartphone use in schools, reflecting the complexity of the issue. While some advocate for complete bans, others stress the need for context-specific policies. Ultimately, the challenge lies in harnessing the power of technology while safeguarding the educational environment.