There have been many debates about the use of mobile phones in classrooms by minors. Each one has its own arguments to show for or against, but the only certainty is that it is an issue that needs to be addressed and which is already beginning to attract regulation.

Two of the pioneers are Galicia and the Region of Murcia, who have already announced a new protocol that came into force on Monday, January 8, a pilot project that it will serve to create regulation at a national level, either in a similar way or with amendments, depending on the outcome of the trial.

  1. The use of smartphones will not be allowed even during break time.
  2. There are exceptions in which the use of a mobile phone will be allowed.
  3. This is a first step for other communities and for national regulation.

Decree 8/2015 was published almost a decade ago to improve Law 4/2011, which regulates everything related to harmony in schools. In it, the use of smartphones was already limited nationwide, although only “during school hours.” With their new protocols, Galicia and Murcia intend to go further.

The Xunta de Galicia says that 76% of the educational centres in the region are already taking measures similar to those they are proposing now, which simply consist of preventing the use of smartphones by students in schools, regardless of whether or not it is during class time or during a break.

The same will now happen in the Region of Murcia, given that the protocols that both propose are very similar (if not identical). In both cases it will not matter if the student is in the classroom, or if he is in the school playground or in any other common space such as hallways, toilets or sports areas.

There are exceptions, however, in which their use will be allowed. Both regions say that such exceptions are to be determined by each school or college, so they can be flexible. Although the idea is to limit the use of these devices as much as possible, it is not intended to ban them entirely.

Some exceptions that are being considered are those related to the health of students. Those suffering from illness or discomfort may exceptionally be allowed to carry their mobile phone to communicate with their family if necessary. Also in other family cases of an urgent nature, although it is understood that it must always be agreed with the centre and also authorized by the child’s family.

Another exceptional case is that the use of the phone in teaching. If the purposes of its use are educational and authorised by the teacher and/or the centre, the student may bring in their phone. However, this will always be with teacher supervision, so it is understood that they will not be able to use it for other purposes such as chatting, texting, surfing the Internet freely, accessing social networks or playing games.

However, this pilot trial only affects primary and compulsory secondary school students. Its application is not being introduced in vocational training centres with students of legal age, so intermediate or higher-level vocational training students, as well as those in adult schools, will be able to continue carrying their smartphone with them and use them during their rest hours (during classes, their limitation can still be applied).

This is a first step for other communities and for national regulation with Pilar Alegría, Minister of Education, already confirming her own plans to regulate cell phone use in schools.

There now seems to be an increasing consensus between regional and national governments on this matter, regardless of the parties that make them up. Pilar Alegría, Minister of Education, already revealed this last month in a press conference. On that occasion she spoke of the importance of raising awareness among the youngest about the “abusive use” of this technology.

Knowing that “the Government wants to provide a solution to (parents’) concerns”, they will carefully study the effectiveness of protocols such as the one initiated by Galicia and Murcia during the coming weeks, and they will not be alone, since It is expected that other regions will join the initiative (Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid) until such time as the central government makes a decision.