Parliamentary Replies

July 10, 2018

Use of Smartphones in Schools

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Zainal Sapari, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether smartphones should be banned in schools given that there are studies showing their detrimental effects on students' learning, interaction, school-related work, physical activity, along with other smartphone-related disruptions.

Response

1. MOE has provided guidance for schools to develop policies and rules to regulate the use of mobile devices in schools, based on their student profiles and needs. However, there is no blanket ban of smartphones in schools.

2. There have been recent reports that countries such as France, Australia and the UK are considering banning smartphones in schools. But there are conflicting views in these countries on the usefulness or practicality of a blanket ban.

3. While there are studies that show the detrimental effects of smartphones on learning, there are also studies which show that when used purposefully, phones are learning tools that can bring about positive educational outcomes. For example, students can use their smartphones to obtain useful information, conduct research, collaborate with their classmates and provide teachers with quick feedback on their understanding of lessons.

4. Whether smartphones affect learning positively or negatively depends on its usage. Schools are therefore teaching students to use mobile devices responsibly both in and out of school. Through Cyber Wellness (CW) lessons, students are taught how to take responsibility for their online well-being. They are also taught to seek help from trusted adults when necessary. As partners-in-education, parents also play an important role in guiding their children in the use of smartphones and online interactions.

5. MOE will continue to monitor developments and work closely with schools to put in place measures and structures pertaining to smartphones to ensure a conducive teaching and learning environment.