A recent plan by a Co Kerry primary school that banned smartphone use at the home for older students has now been extended to include the whole school.
Initially, it was brought into the school as an 11-week pilot program in April following perceived problems with 11 and 12-year-old children in messaging groups outside of school. The content of these messages, while not disclosed, surprised parents and teachers, ultimately creating issues that needed to be addressed during class time.
According to The Irish Times, St. Brendan's Primary School in Blennerville, near Tralee, had placed the ban on its usage to stop pupils from accessing social media because it had been distracting them from their classes and creating other problems.
The principal, Terry O’Sullivan, was the first to introduce these measures in Ireland and has now called for a national debate on this matter. However, O’Sullivan was reluctant to call it a ban, per se.
“The key message is consultation. Ultimately it was the parents. Parents have to buy into it. Schools cannot fight this on their own. It would not have worked without the parents,” O’Sullivan said.
While the trial proved to be difficult for pupils getting adjusted to their withdrawal from social media for about the first week or so, the result was seen as positive in the end. O’Sullivan stated on Radio Kerry that friendships were improved and the overall class dynamic was much better now that children were more engaged in classroom activities.
Nora Corridon, chair of the school’s Parents Association believed the ban was “a fantastic idea.”
“It takes the pressure off parents. Parents feel under pressure to buy smartphones if their children’s peers have them,” Corridon said.
In this case, the older children were the ones to have smartphones and this would often influence the younger kids to pester their parents since they wanted to follow their example.
“The longer we can keep children away from smartphones, the better, I feel,” Corridon noted.
During a meeting between parents and teachers, it was reported that children were now interacting with their family more often, going outside to play “old school” activities, and so on according to Corridon. Almost everyone there supported the ban as a net positive for everyone involved.
Would you support a ban like this in schools?