China Bans Mobile Phones in Elementary and Middle Schools

By Ryan Gandolfo, February 3, 2021

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China’s leading education authority recently announced a mobile phone ban in Chinese elementary and middle schools.

According to a notice published on the Ministry of Education’s website on Monday, students will be prohibited from bringing their mobile phones on campus – unless a parent’s written letter of consent is approved.

The ministry said the ban will help protect students’ eyesight, improve their studies, prevent internet and gaming addiction and promote healthy lifestyles.

The ministry is calling on schools to set up public phones on campus to address any student and parent communication concerns. For some young students, it may be the first time they’ll ever use a public phone.

Teachers will also no longer be allowed to assign homework that requires the use of mobile phones.

The news has been applauded by China’s online community, and became a trending topic on Weibo this week with over seven million views, as of press time. A Weibo poll conducted by Gaokao Zhitongche (高考直通车) shows that 64% of netizens support the ban, while 17% oppose it.

“Children nowadays rely too much on mobile phones,” posted one Weibo user, placing the blame on parents who allow their children too much access to electronic devices. “It’s good to do this in public, so at least the kids don’t make noise. But many parents do the same thing at home. They don’t cultivate their children’s hobbies such as reading, and they just use their phones to solve the problem when kids are misbehaving.”

In 2019, state-run media outlet Xinhua reported that more than 93% of Chinese parents give their children mobile phones for daily use, according to a China Youth Daily survey. Students mainly use their phones for homework and social media – however, 30% of parents surveyed admitted that they had failed to educate their kids on how to “rationally use” the devices. 

[Cover image via @人民日报/Weibo] 

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