‘Education is the solution’: the Gloucester high school enforcing a digital detox

The Guardian reports that fourteen-year-old friends Hannah Cox and Libby Shirnia admitted they were a little taken aback when their school announced stringent new rules on mobile phones, smart watches and Fitbit activity monitors.

“Everyone’s reaction was: ‘This is so annoying.’” said Libby. “But then we chatted about it and thought it might be a good thing. It’s the worst thing when you’re having a conversation and someone is doing that [Libby mimes tapping and sliding on a smart screen].”

Libby and Hannah’s school, Stroud high in Gloucestershire, hit the headlines this week after it emerged that it was clamping down on mobile devices. What grabbed the attention was the idea that the move was partly because of concerns that some girls were becoming obsessed with counting steps and calories – and skipping meals to make sure they met their targets.

But the drive is not just about that. The school, an academy primarily for girls, is concerned that mobile devices are leading to addiction to social media – as well as counting steps.

Earlier this year the school ran a survey in which almost three-quarters of students said they check or respond to social media “constantly”. More than half were taking their phones to bed. But the statistic that alarmed deputy headteacher Cindi Pride. was that more than half of key stage three pupils (aged 11-14) said they would like to feel more in control of their use of social media.


“If that wasn’t a cri de coeur, I don’t know what was. They want more control, they patently don’t know how to do it, or they would be doing it. We need to try to help them. School is a place where you should be able to learn, have fun, have authentic friendships, not be talking to each other across the room via Snapchat.”

Jess Hourston, 16, is one of those who took part in the week-long digital detox. “I used to struggle with homework. Usually, you write a sentence and then you check Snapchat. You rewrite the same sentence. Homework that should take half an hour takes an hour and a half. That week I did the best homework I’d done in a while. I wasn’t tired. Usually I would go to bed but be on my phone for an hour before going to sleep. That week I woke up having eight hours’ sleep and woke up feeling better, which was shocking really.”

Read more ‘Education is the solution’: the Gloucester high school enforcing a digital detox

Does your school need a digital detox? Do you? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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