Eton pupils given ‘brick’ phones instead of smartphones under new policy

8 July 2024, 14:41

Close up hand holding mobile phone Nokia 3310 isolated on pink background. Female hand holding old used phone Nokia 3310.
Close up hand holding mobile phone Nokia 3310 isolated on pink background. Female hand holding old used phone Nokia 3310. Picture: Alamy

By Henry Moore

Eton College is set to ban year nine pupils from using smartphones and will instead provide them with Nokia “bricks.”

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Parents of children aged 13 and 14 attending the £49,0000 per year school have been informed of the change, which will take effect in September.

Mike Grenier, the school’s deputy head overseeing pastoral care, called on parents to leave students’ smartphones at home and transfer SIM cards into low-tech Nokia “bricks” that can only make calls and send texts.

An Eton spokesman said: “Eton routinely reviews our mobile phone and devices policy to balance the benefits and challenges that technology brings to schools.

“From September those joining in Year 9 will receive a ‘brick’ phone for use outside the school day, as well as a school-issued iPad to support academic study.

“Age-appropriate controls remain in place for other year groups.”

The move has been welcomed by Smartphone Free Childhood, a campaign group highlighting the risks of phones in schools.

Eton College student on his phone between lessons
Eton College student on his phone between lessons. Picture: Getty

Joe Ryrie, the group’s co-founder, told The Times: “We have to ensure it’s not only the most privileged in society who are able to protect their children.

“The data show that the harms caused affects those in the lowest economic households the most. On average they spend twice as much time a day on screens, and are twice as likely to report being physically threatened online.

“We need to make sure the most vulnerable in society are not left behind, and that the government launches an immediate consultation into the effects of smartphones on children so that we can protect children in households where parents don’t have the time, tech knowledge or headspace to monitor and control their access to smartphones.”

Eton’s decision comes amid a wave of private schools moving to ban smartphones.

Thomas’s in Battersea, south London, which was attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte is set to introduce a similar policy while Alleyn’s in Dulwich has urged parents not to buy their children smartphones.

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