Column: Right decision to ban mobile phones from the classroom

It’s common to say kids these days don’t know they’re born but I feel sorry for them because of mobile phones, says Notts-raised comedian and columnist Steve N Allen.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:00 pm

As a child I would beg my parents to let me have a phone extension in my bedroom. I saw having a phone as the height of coolness. Now I can’t wait to get away from the thing. My mobile is always buzzing and pinging and giving me work to do.

This is why I agree with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s plan to ban mobile use is classrooms. I am rather shocked that they’re not already banned.

When I was young I didn’t expect to run an extension cable from my home to the school so I could have a rotary phone on my school desk. That also meant my parents couldn’t message me during the day and yet somehow we coped.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Notts-raised comedian and writer Steve N Allen
Notts-raised comedian and writer Steve N Allen

In the even of an emergency my parents would phone the school as they probably all have phone lines these days.

I don’t think that children should be kept away from technology all the time. In fact I would argue that being able to use smartphones is essential. So many of us will end up with job that require tapping or swiping something. If you can only use a pen and pencil you’ll be underqualified.

The problem isn’t that phones are bad, the trouble is that they are great. They are not just phones now, the modern ones are high-powered mini computers that surf the web, play games, make films and store record shop’s worth of music. They are interesting. Trigonometry isn’t.

Why make it even harder for children to focus on the dull learning? How can you calculate the volume of a sphere when you know you could be watching YouTube videos?

I am rather shocked that phones weren’t already banned from classrooms, says comedian and columnist Steve N Allen.

It is an important part of a school education. Not the sphere thing. I have never needed 4/3πr³, but doing boring tasks. Part of what school prepares you for is the ability to tolerate the dull. All jobs have the part. Even astronauts have a lot of paperwork to do. Your GCSE and A-level results tell your future employer that you are willing to sit there and do the job you’re asked to do instead of getting your phone our and having a great time on their dime.

The best reason I can find for banning mobile phones in school is this. The children who can’t cope without their phones will grow into the adults who don’t turn their phones off in the cinema. Ban them now!