Two kids hang their backpacks as they arrive for the first day of school in the Escola Catalonia school in Barcelona, Spain. EPA-EFE/ENRIC FONTCUBERTA

Regional Signal

Catalonia bans smartphones in school


Catalonia, Spain

As the new school year approaches, Catalonia stands poised to implement a ground-breaking policy: the prohibition of smartphones in primary and middle schools.

This move, spearheaded by the Catalan Department of Education, represents a concerted effort to foster a more conducive learning environment and address concerns regarding excessive screen time among children.

Effective from September, students aged 6-12 will be required to leave their mobile phones at home, marking a departure from the pervasive digital presence that has become synonymous with modern education.

For secondary school students aged 12-16, the use of smartphones will be permitted strictly for educational purposes, subject to the discretion of individual schools.

The decision to impose such stringent regulations stemmed from a grassroots movement fuelled by concerned parents, newsite The Mayor reports.

Originating from a WhatsApp group in November 2023, the initiative swiftly gained momentum, culminating in the formation of ‘Adolescència lliure de mòbil’ (A phone-free youth), a campaign advocating for a more balanced approach to technology in children’s lives.

In interviews, parents expressed their desire to afford their children a childhood free from the distractions of constant connectivity and digital dependence.

While acknowledging the benefits of technology, they underscored the importance of instilling boundaries and fostering offline interactions essential for healthy development.

“We are not against technology per se, but we want our children to experience a childhood reminiscent of our own, one that isn’t dominated by screens,” remarked one parent involved in the movement.

Central to the discourse surrounding smartphone usage in schools is the issue of peer pressure.

Parents highlighted the challenges they face in resisting societal norms that equate smartphone ownership with social status. The pressure to conform often strains parent-child relationships and exacerbates the perceived necessity of mobile devices.

The swift response from regional authorities shows Catalonia’s commitment to addressing the evolving needs of its youth.

Through a participatory process involving teachers, families, and students, the government garnered insights and perspectives crucial to crafting effective policy measures.

Catalonia’s embrace of a smartphone ban aligns with similar initiatives implemented across Europe.

Countries like France, Italy, and Finland have already enacted prohibitions on smartphones in schools, reflecting a growing consensus on the need to mitigate the adverse effects of excessive screen time on children’s well-being.

As Catalonia prepares to embark on this transformative journey, educators, parents, and policymakers alike remain optimistic about the prospects of cultivating a more balanced and enriching educational experience for the next generation.

With innovation and adaptability at its core, Catalonia charts a course towards a future where technology complements, rather than overwhelms, the educational landscape.