Boys in their first year at Eton College, a boarding school in the UK, have been ordered to hand over their mobile phones at night in a new policy. Pupils hand in all electronic devices to staff at 9.30pm and pick them up the next morning at about 7.45 am, though exceptions can be made on a case by case basis. The headmaster, Simon Henderson, said that the policy was introduced to reduce the amount of screen time pupils are exposed to and improve their sleep.
The policy has been a success, and the boys have given largely positive reactions to the policy. Many welcome the policy and said that they appreciate the break from their electronic devices and not feeling the social pressure to read and reply to messages instantly. In fact, they said that this helps to improve their sleep.
After seeing the positive reaction of the boys and its impact on their wellbeing, the college is thinking of extending the policy to the rest of its cohort. The policy is timely light of widespread concern about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. According to Ofcom, 83% of 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK have a smartphone and half of all children have a social media by the time they’re 12. While schools have increasingly introduced mobile phone bans to restrict their use in classrooms, parents at home often struggle to separate their teenagers from their screens. The success of the policy certainly opens up new doors to the benefits of restricting screen time for teenagers even at night.
It is interesting to note that the boys actually welcomed the move by the college. Social media can sometimes exacerbate the peer pressure students go through. By removing their access to screens at night, this pressure will ease and undoubtedly, the boys were able to get meaningful physical and mental rest. The policy is a good example of timely adult supervision and intervention that is well-received, and something that we should all be considering as well.
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