Mobile phone ban at Kilgraston sparks national interest with The Times featuring the story
At the beginning of the 2018 autumn term, Kilgraston brought in a 'no mobile phones at school' rule. Interest in the decision, and subsequent results, have sparked national interest. The Times picked up the story and offered its heavy-weight support for the policy in Saturday's Leader column...
Ping, ping, ping: the sound of notifications is the blight of modern life.
You are never alone with your phone and that is precisely the problem. It is the last thing you look at each night and the first thing you consult each morning. You may think you are made of sterner stuff than other, more obviously addicted citizens but the truth is, probably, that you are not. You are hooked too, in thrall to a pocket-sized dictator upon which you are hopelessly, irretrievably, dependent.
The first stage of recovery is admitting you have a problem. That is a frightening first step but a necessary one.
The series of technological marvels that created the internet and then put more computing power into your pocket than was required to land men on the moon have revolutionised our society. History — and social anthropology — may one day be divided into two distinct eras: before and after the mobile phone.
According to Ofcom the typical Briton consults their phone every 12 minutes and the average person spends two and a half hours online, on their phone, every day. Younger Britons are even more obviously hooked: the typical person aged between 18 and 24 spends more than three hours looking at their phone each day. These figures do not include time spent texting or, in what must now be reckoned a transgressive move, using mobile phones for what they were originally intended: making telephone calls.
And it is all too much. As with all wonders, you can have too much of a good thing. Amid this ceaseless chatter, this unending stream of updates and notifications, some older, useful virtues are in danger of being lost forever.
It is not unreasonable for parents to worry, if they feel their own powers of concentration are eroded by their reliance on their phones, about the impact this relentless technology may have on their children.
“No phones at the dining table” is a commonly employed household rule notable for the manner in which children and adults flagrantly ignore it. Something might have happened on Twitter, after all, or someone might have updated their Facebook status. Someone, somewhere, may be wrong on the internet and in sharp need of immediate correction.
Even the tech companies acknowledge there are problems with this level of dependence. It seems notable that both Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs thought it prudent to minimise their children’s access to screen-based technology. Now Google admits that 70 per cent of the users it speaks to for research purposes want to feel less reliant upon their phones.
Facebook has announced plans to allow us to see how much time we fritter away on its platforms, presumably in the hope that this will shame citizens into reducing how long they spend trawling through Facebook and Instagram. Apple and Google have launched similar schemes that will even, if you are brave enough, allow you to limit the amount of time you spend in their apps.
Three cheers, then, to the headmistress of Kilgraston School in Perthshire, who has introduced a policy requiring pupils and staff alike to lock their phones away during the school day. She reports a revival in conversational conviviality, better concentration and focus, and a happier school body as a result. Status update: there is a lesson there.