A UNESCO report has warned of a ‘negative link’ between excessive use of digital technology and student performance, calling for a ban on smartphones in schools. The move will help tackle classroom disruption, improve learning, and help protect children from cyberbullying, recommended the report.
The UN’s education, science and culture agency, UNESCO, has said that there was evidence that excessive mobile phone use was linked to reduced educational performance and high levels of screen time had a negative effect on children’s emotional stability.
The UN experts said the call for a smartphone ban is to underline the fact that digital technology, including artificial intelligence, should always be subservient to a “human-centred vision” of education, and never replace face-to-face interaction with teachers.
The UN agency warned policymakers against a thoughtless embrace of digital technology, arguing that its positive impact on learning outcomes and economic efficiency could be overstated, and new was not always better. With more learning moving online, especially in universities, it urged policymakers not to neglect the “social dimension” of education.
There was little robust research to demonstrate digital technology essentially added value to education, UNESCO said in its 2023 Global Education Monitor report. Much of the evidence was funded by private education companies trying to sell digital learning products. Their growing influence on education policy around the world was “a cause for concern,” it added.