New bill will request students to hand in mobile phones at the start of school day

Big changes may be coming to Irish primary and secondary schools.

A few months back, a Kerry school tried an experiment with the students in their 6th class by banning mobile phones and social media both in school and at home, but it looks like part of that experiment may be on the way to being passed as a law.

A new legislation, proposed by Independent Senators Billy Lawless, Victor Boyhan and Gerard Craughwell, well request that students submit their mobile phones at the start of the school day, and will then be collected at the end of the school day.

This would follow in the footsteps of a similar legislation passed in France, where all students under the age of 15 are banned from using a mobile phone in school, while Culture Secretary Matt Hancock recently called on head teachers to ban mobile phones in schools in the UK.

According to the Oireachtas website, the description of the new bill is as follows:

Bill entitled an Act to regulate the use of digital devices in primary and secondary schools subject to the discretionary educational uses provided for in the act and to put in place a code of behaviour on digital device usage implemented by the board of management and teachers by which student possession of digital devices will be prohibited during school hours for the purposes of reducing the harmful impact on academic performance and the social and emotional well-being of children.

According to RTE News, Victor Boyhan said that 'the aim of the proposed legislation to strike a balance between the benefits of the use for technology for educational purposes, and the negative effects of unsupervised use of devices.'

He added that he didn't believe in banning mobile devices outright, and that he also welcomed the fact that the bill was not being opposed by the government, hoping that it would encourage debate and discussion about how best to manage the issue.