The CEO of a Wireless Company Advocates Prohibition of Phones in Classrooms

Do you want to uncover Silicon Valley’s worst-kept secret? The heads of the largest technology firms worldwide prohibit their children from using technology, particularly in educational settings. As explained by an MIT psychologist, this caution stems from tech leaders’ acute awareness of the adverse effects on young, impressionable minds. While all types of screens pose challenges in the learning environment, students’ personal phones have emerged as particularly problematic.

This matter hits close to home for me because my career has been dedicated to democratizing access to mobile technology. As the founder and CEO of two mobile operators, my professional objective is to offer affordable mobile connectivity to as many individuals as possible. However, despite this, I prioritize my role as a father over my business interests.

That’s why I advocate for a nationwide prohibition on students’ use of mobile phones during school hours.

The detrimental impact of phone usage and social media on the mental health of young people is now widely acknowledged, and Mark Zuckerberg’s recent acknowledgment before Congress underscores that these companies recognize the severity of the issue they face.

However, the problem of phones in schools extends beyond mental health concerns—it undermines the very process of learning itself. A recent article in The Atlantic highlights that the most comprehensive global benchmark of academic performance has been steadily declining since 2012 across all countries. The study attributed this decline, in part, to increased screen device usage, noting that the amount of time students spent on screens had a significantly negative effect on academic performance. For instance, students who limited their screen time to less than an hour per day outperformed those who spent over five hours daily on devices by 50 points on math exams.

Australia implemented a nationwide ban on mobile phones in all public high schools, and the results are promising, with improved academic scores, enhanced social interaction, and better student well-being. Similarly, countries like Belgium, France, Spain, and the UK have adopted similar measures, and a recent United Nations report urged all nations to implement comparable restrictions.

A grassroots movement has emerged in the United States advocating for similar measures. In 2020, as per the National Center for Education Statistics, 77 percent of schools across the nation had implemented some form of cellphone ban. States such as California, Florida, and Tennessee have granted public schools the authority, though not the mandate, to regulate student smartphone usage. Additionally, certain districts in Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, and Ohio have also implemented similar restrictions.

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