Several schools in central Switzerland have banned the use of mobile phones during school breaks.
A number of schools in the cantons Zug, Nidwalden and Luzern introduced the ban at the beginning of the school year, according to 20 Minuten.
Peter Hörler, director of schools in the canton of Zug, told the newspaper Zentralschweiz am Sonntag: “What we are teaching is not being properly absorbed. Interaction in class is not as good as it could be, and pupils are not getting enough fresh air.”
However, school representatives are not convinced of the ban’s merits. Christian Amsler, president of the group representing public school directors in German-speaking Switzerland, points out that schools are free decide whether to tolerate mobile phones in the playground or not. At the same time he says he is not keen on this ban. “Everyone has a mobile phone these days. It’s a reality that must be accepted by the schools.” He thinks pupils’ use of smartphones makes good sense. “They communicate on Whatsapp, read news and communicate with the wider world, sometimes in other languages. I only see benefits coming from young people communicating with their phones.”
Julien Engenberger, teacher and socialist party deputy in Vaud, thinks the bans are an invasion of privacy. “To what extent do we want to govern what pupils do in their free time?” he said to the newspaper Le Matin. “It can be good to take time out alone”, adding “we want to promote socialisation, but is it necessary to always be interacting with people? Not necessarily. So it’s not automatically a problem.”
Karl Stadler, a lawyer interviewed by 20 Minuten, goes further. For him, banning mobiles during class breaks, is a clear invasion of privacy. These breaks are not governed by the school authorities.
The Chancellor of the Willisau school in Luzern, knows the ban’s limits, but believes it benefits the pupils, especially 11 and 12 year olds. Being glued to a screen during free time is detrimental to development and interpersonal communication. He would prefer to encourage children to engage in games and sport, which promote interaction.
Andri Silberschmidt, president of Switzerland’s young liberals, thinks the ban is pointless. Students will use them anyway. They’ll go to the toilets and use them in secret. He thinks it would make more sense for teachers to discuss the risks of excessive mobile use. Parents who have resorted to strict control of electronic devices at home after failing to convince their children of the perils of excessive use of these devices, might see a flaw in this approach.