Cellphone Use Policy in Schools around the World – Considerations & Examples


Since March 2015, about one million students in New York City have been allowed to bring their cellphones with them to school. Thus the ban of cellphone use in schools, established by Mayor Bloomberg and was in force for about 10 years, was cancelled.


The ban was not popular, and aroused opposition from parents who claimed that communication with their children during school hours cannot be prohibited. Also, the ban was difficult to enforce, so in practice, some schools allowed students to keep their phones as long as they were not causing a disturbance, while others completely banned their use.

According to the city’s new policy, each school can make its own rules regarding where to place cellphones during studies and during breaks, and also whether the students will be allowed to use their phones during the afternoon recess or in certain designated areas in their school.


This is an example of the debate surrounding cellphone use policy in schools




All round the world there is no uniform policy on the question of whether to ban or allow cellphone use in schools



  • In Britain, there is no government policy on cellphone use in schools, and no ministry of education recommendations, and each school makes its own policy. Some schools completely ban cellphones and others only require that the phones be muted during lessons. According to a study published in May 2015, a ban on bringing cellphones to classrooms may cause an equivalent improvement in students’ achievements to addition of one week of studies each school year.


  • There is also no uniform policy in the United States. According to a 2007 study, 84% of the high schools in the United States had a written policy on cell phones, 76% of which prohibited cellphone use.
    In a report published in 2010 by Education Week, 88% of schools had a written policy about cellphone usage in school.



  • In France, according to the 2010 Nation's Commitment Toward the Environment Law (chapter 183, clause 511.5), students in kindergartens, elementary schools and middle schools are prohibited from using cellphones during “learning activity” (the law’s wording). In August 2018 a new law passed by the French parliament was publicized which expands the prohibition on cellphone use beyond schools grounds for any activity associated with studies. According to the new law students in kindergartens, elementary schools and middle schools are prohibited from using cellphones or any other end user device in school or for “any activity associated with studies outside of the school grounds” (translation of the law’s wording). High schools can choose to be included in the prohibition. The law also notes circumstances and cases where the prohibition does not apply.


  • In a study conducted in 2014, in 7 European countries (Denmark, Italy, Romania, Britain, Belgium, Ireland and Portugal) the percentage of smartphone usage in schools was 46% overall. Comparing the countries, the rate of usage was 82% in Denmark, versus 30% in Belgium, 26% in Italy and 13% in Ireland. The differences in school smartphone usage between the countries can be partly explained by differences in learning methods, educational systems and culture. Most of the students in the study agreed that there is a need for rules to regulate smartphone use in the classroom.




However, even when there is a clear school cellphone usage policy, students do not always agree and adhere to the policy




So, for example, in a study conducted in the USA in 2010, involving 800 adolescents aged 12-17 and their parents, 65% of the primary and secondary school age students brought a phone to school with them and texted during lessons, even though their schools banned cellphone use.




It appears that with the introduction of new technologies to the education systems in different countries around the world and the use of devices such as smartphones and tablets as pedagogical tools, policy on cellphones usage in schools will need to change accordingly




  • Mascheroni, G&Cuman, A. (2014) Net Children Go Mobile: Final report Deliverables D 6.4& D5.2 Milano: Educatt
Updated on: 13.3.2018