Schools to ban wireless devices

July 24, 2023


The Dutch government recently announced plans to ban digital devices from classrooms from 1 January 2024 to improve learning.1

The ban will apply to a range of wireless devices, including mobile phones, smart watches and tablets.

According to Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, scientific research has shown that mobile phones disrupt concentration and, therefore, learning.

How the ban is implemented will be up to individual schools with parents, teachers and students involved in decision-making.

NSW schools

NSW schools are expected to implement bans on the use of mobile phones during classes, recess and breaks from term 4, 2023.

According to Prue Car, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, “A blanket ban in high schools will create a level playing field, reduce distractions in classrooms, help address cyberbullying issues and improve student learning outcomes. We know that parents across the state are concerned about the impact that devices like smartphones are having on their kids’ learning and mental health.

Condell Park High School has successfully banned student mobile phones for 16 years with benefits to student learning and behaviour.’ 2

Mobile phones are already banned in high schools in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

Digital devices and learning

Various studies have shown that the use of internet-connected devices has harmful effects on learning. Here are just a few.

  • A 2018 study found that restricting children’s screen time was associated with improved performance in cognition. 3

  • Scientists from Western Sydney University, Oxford University and the University of Manchester found that internet use caused changes in aspects of cognition,affecting memory and social activity. 4

  • Using mobile phones during a break from work was shown to reduce performancesubsequently. 5

  • A University of Chicago study found that even the presence of a smart phone reduced ‘available cognitive capacity’ and the greatest losers were those who were most dependent on smart phones. 6

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  1. RTE, Netherlands to ban mobile phones from classrooms, 4 July 2023, 

  2. NSW Government, Media release

  3. Jeremy J Walsh et al, Associations between 24 hour movement behaviours and global cognition in US children: a cross-sectional observational study, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Vol 2, Issue 11, P783-791, Nov 2018, DOI

  4. NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University. (2019, June 5). How the Internet may be changing the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 13, 2022 from 

  5. Kang, S., & Kurtzberg, T. R. (2019). Reach for your cell phone at your own risk: The cognitive costs of media choice for breaks, Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8(3), 395-403. Retrieved Mar 15, 2022, from 

  6. Adrian F Ward, Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity, Journal of the Association for Consumer ResearchVolume 2, Number 2, 2017, 

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