Lola Okolosie on mobile phones in class:
A recent large-scale study found that banning mobile phones improved exam results by 2%, even when gender and class had been accounted for. At first glance it seems an insignificant rise but the impact is equivalent to one extra week of school a year. The researchers from the London School of Economics centred their work on 91 schools and the exam results from 130,000 pupils since 2001. For those entitled to free school meals or with special educational needs the ban was doubly effective.
Hurrah! Incontrovertible evidence, and no more than you’d expect from an English teacher that…
Investigations such as this throw into question whether mobile phones could, in fact, intensify inequality.
Allowing mobile phones would almost certainly increase cyberbullying. Then there is the needless work they would create for teachers dealing with pupils who have lost or had stolen a £180 phone they got for Christmas.
And here is a much less-discussed problem, the pressure of keeping up appearances. In 2012 the department store John Lewis surveyed 2,000 parents, and found the average cost of equipping children for school was an eye-watering £550. Even if we dismiss that figure as far from average, John Lewis being the well-heeled person’s Argos and all, the high price of smartphones is hard to ignore. Costing an average of £270, it is shocking to think that by 2017, 96% of teenagers will own one.
Yes, it’s particularly shocking when you consider that the ‘poor and deprived’ that the ‘Guardian’ regularly weeps over will be among this figure…
It is inevitable that those with parents who can’t afford such amounts will desire them more intensely.
No doubt. So what?
Today, most of us can agree that school uniforms are a great social leveller. Standing out as the one with crap clothes is hard to do when everyone is dressed identically. The argument against mobile phones should be similar. Keep them out of schools. Allow children to learn in peace, free from the worry that the phone is one giant signal of their reduced means.