Elite British School Bans Smartphones, Issues Nokia Handsets to Students

One of the UK’s most elite schools, Eton College, has taken a bold step to address concerns about the impact of smartphones on young people’s well-being. The school, known for its illustrious alumni including 20 British Prime Ministers and notable figures like Princes William and Harry, will ban smartphones for its incoming students. Instead, these 13-year-olds will be provided with basic Nokia phones capable only of making calls and sending texts.

This decision, announced by Eton’s deputy head, Mike Grenier, aims to reduce classroom distractions and promote a healthier relationship with technology. The school believes that the constant accessibility of social media and other smartphone apps can negatively impact students’ mental health and socialization. The ban is not without precedent, with similar initiatives being implemented in schools across the US.

The school-issued Nokia phones, which could be the recently released Nokia 3210, will offer students a simplified experience devoid of social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. The school will provide iPads for educational purposes. The ban, which begins this September, will see the SIM cards from students’ smartphones transferred to the school-issued Nokia handsets.

Eton’s move comes as the UK’s Labour government explores the possibility of banning social media for children to protect their mental health. This initiative reflects a growing concern about the potential downsides of excessive smartphone use among young people. Research by Common Sense Media suggests that approximately 91% of children in the US have smartphones by the age of 14, leading to increased discussions about responsible technology usage in schools.

While the school acknowledges the potential benefits of smartphones for communication, access to information, and social connection, they emphasize the importance of responsible and moderate use. Eton’s decision to limit smartphone access while providing alternative tools for education and communication demonstrates a proactive approach to navigating the complex relationship between technology and youth development.

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