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School Issues Students With Nokia Devices To Replace Smartphones

New students at one of the world’s most exclusive schools, the UK’s Eton College, will be banned from bringing smartphones to school.

Instead, Eton – whose alumni includes Prince William and Ian Fleming – will issue them with a basic Nokia headset, although it hasn’t specified which particular Nokia device they will be handing out.

In a letter to parents, Mike Grenier, Eton’s deputy head overseeing pastoral care, said new boarders aged 13 should have their smart devices taken home after its SIM card is transferred to an offline Nokia headset which will only be able to make calls and send texts.

“When used responsibly and in moderation, [smartphones] can be a key part of life for the modern teenager and can create positive social networks and give access to news and views from around the world,” said Grenier, according to the Telegraph. “However, despite these positives, there are also associated challenges and potential areas for concern, especially around socialisation, misuse, and overuse, and the impact on both mental and physical health.”

Eton added if a child did need access to a smartphone, it could be stored with staff, with the school already issuing iPads to pupils to use for their studies with ‘age-appropriate controls’ in place.

The school which is located in Windsor currently does not allow younger boys to have their phones with them during the day, and teens in the first three years of the college must hand in their devices at night.

The elite school has a fee of A$98,910 per annum and has taken this step at a time when studies show that access to smartphones, and specifically social media, has parents concerned about their children’s mental health.

Australia is taking steps to curb the use of social media among children. A survey by Australian mental health service ReachOut this year found social media is the number one issue of concern among parents and carers of children with 59 per cent saying they were concerned about their child’s use of social media and 55 per cent saying social media had a significant impact on their child’s well-being.

The Peter Malinauskas government in South Australia has appointed former Chief Justice of the High Court Robert French AC to conduct a legal examination into the possibility of banning children under the age of 14 from having social media accounts – which will be a first for any state in Australia.

In addition to imposing a ban on all children under the age of 14 having access to a social media account, South Australia would also require parental consent for children aged 14 and 15.

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