Smartphones: Just say NO


At Michaela we have a quote on the wall that says, ‘Freedom comes from self-control.’

Many people think that freedom comes from a lack of control. But at Michaela we believe the opposite: it is only by mastering one’s base desires that one can be free to embrace real freedom and genuine choice. Only with knowledge can one know freedom of thought. Only with practice can one know freedom of expression.

The same goes for that smartphone. We are clear that if we see or hear a phone, we’ll confiscate it. And we’ll keep it for a long time. The kids are clear. The parents are clear.

So guess what?

No one at Michaela ever takes out their phone.  I can count on one hand the number of times a pupil has deliberately taken out their phone in the past 4 years.

They revel in the freedom it gives them.

All children yearn for the self-discipline to just say NO to their smartphone, to Fortnite, to Grand Theft Auto, or to that Xbox. Self-discipline is hard to develop. Many adults cannot manage it because no one helped them to learn it as a child. Many adults remain slaves to the sofa instead of going to the gym. Or they jump from job to job because they find it too difficult to be self-disciplined enough to turn up on time or meet deadlines.

School isn’t just about academic pursuits. It should be about setting children free. And that means teaching them self-control.

I hear some teachers or headteachers say they want to allow children phones at break and lunch so that children can be in control of their own phone use. But for the 6 to 8 hours that children have away from school every day, and for the 48+ hours they have at the weekend, they have lots of time to ‘choose’ whether or not to use their phones.

But even then, we try to support our pupils and parents. We give them a series of boxes to tick (to give a sense of achievement) if they manage to stay away from their phone for 3 hours in the evening. This frees them up to do their homework, talk to their families, or simply read a book.

Parents are SO grateful. In fact, we sell brick phones at reception as an alternative to the smartphone. We understand that parents like the security of being able to contact their child after school. Mobiles are a convenience of the 21st century. With a brick phone, you get the advantage of being able to contact your child without allowing them through the doors of hell. While there is good on the internet, there is also so much that is worrying for children, not least the porn, the bullying, and the miserable one-upmanship on social media.

I have had children beg me for help. ‘Miss, I am addicted. I just can’t get off it. What can I do?’ They desperately want to revise for their GCSEs but they have been seduced by addictive ploys. To those people employed at SnapChat and Instagram to make these apps more addictive, I can only say this: I don’t know how you sleep at night.

Self-control is hard to learn at the best of times, let alone as a child in the 21st century. At Michaela (and in many other schools no doubt), we believe it is our duty to help our pupils break free of the control of the smartphone so that they should be in charge of their own destinies.

And that is no bad thing.

Now where did I put that chocolate cake…?


Author: tomisswithloveblog

Headmistress at Michaela

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