Solihull headteachers call Government to address smartphone addiction - The Solihull Observer

Solihull headteachers call Government to address smartphone addiction

Solihull Editorial 29th Dec, 2023   0

HEADTEACHERS in Solihull are calling on the Government to address smartphone addiction in young people, and say simply banning them in schools is not enough.

Robin Hood Academy, in Hall Green, and Ulverley School, in Solihull, have joined more than 25 headteachers and academy chain CEOs nationally to write to Government ministers and prominent politicians seeking bold legislative intervention to address smartphone addiction among young people.

The group identify smartphone addiction as the root cause of many issues young people face, including the mental health crisis, and argue that current plans – namely the Online Safety Act and banning phones in schools – will have little impact.

Alex Harris, headteacher of Robin Hood Academy, and Mark Pratt, headteacher of Ulverley School, say that while smartphones aren’t a common problem in primary schools, they are concerned for those in older year groups preparing to move on to secondary school.

The group is calling for all political parties to commit to manifesto pledges to legislate against children of school age being allowed to own, and possess, smartphones with the technological capabilities they currently have.

They are calling for young people to only have access to a ‘smartphone lite’ product which, whilst looking like current phones, is stripped back so that all social media is inaccessible with only one-to-one messaging capability alongside functional applications such as maps, transport and educational tools.

To help tackle the issue locally, both schools will also be educating Year 6 pupils about the potential dangers surrounding mobile phone use as part of their transition to secondary school work.

Mr Harris said: “Given my previous experience of working in secondary schools, I am more than aware of the issues surrounding smartphone addiction.

“I have personally witnessed pupils reduced to tears after having their mobile phone confiscated for just 10 minutes due to their reliance on the technology.

“While it is not as prominent as an issue at primary school age, I am fearful for the children transitioning to secondary school so am joining other education leaders across the country to call for change.

“The Government’s ban on mobile phone use in schools is not enough. Smartphones provide young people with unsupported and unregulated access to a wide range of content and they are designed to be addictive.

“It is clear that action needs to be taken now before the situation gets worse.”

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