Total ban on cell phones in NZ schools 'very difficult', Principals Federation says, as France cracks down

The President of the NZ Principals Federation Whetu Cormick says introducing a total ban on students having cell phones at school, like what is happening in France, is unlikely in New Zealand.

France is introducing an outright ban on mobile phones at schools starting this month, in what they called a "detox" law for a generation increasingly reliant on screens.

The ban in France will last until pupils are aged about 15.

Mr Cormick, speaking this morning on TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said most schools in New Zealand already have a policy around when pupils can and can't use mobile phones.

"In terms of whether this type of ban would happen in New Zealand - I doubt it would," Mr Cormick said.

"I think they'd find it very, very difficult."

Mr Cormick said many schools, including his own, required pupils to hand over their cell phones if they were brought to school, and they would get them back at the end of the day.

He said some parents are still keen for their child to have a cell phone to keep in touch, but Mr McCormick said his view was that if parents needed to contact children, or vica versa, this could go through the school office.

The curriculum being taught today is also increasingly digital, Mr Cormick said, and it would be important to differentiate in any ban between casual cell phones and digital devices used to learn.

"We live in a digital age now and we have a digital curriculum that the government is asking schools to implement," Mr Cormick said.

"At the moment we don't have enough digital devices to realise that vision ... in many instances schools are asking young people to bring their own device to school."

Mr Cormick said it was always worthwhile for parents to think about the screen time their children are getting, as some research showed too much could be detrimental, especially at young ages when the brain is still developing.

Whetu Cormick’s comments come in response to France’s nationwide ban on pupils having mobile devices at school. Source: Breakfast