France is banning smartphones in schools. Should employers follow?

This upcoming academic school year, children in France will have to leave their phones behind when they go to class. On Monday, French lawmakers voted to ban smartphones in schools for schoolchildren up to 15 years old.

With the ban, schoolchildren must turn off or leave behind their smartphones and other connected devices when they go to school, although exceptions can be made for “pedagogical use,” and students with special needs.

Back when the idea of the ban was first introduced, France’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that it would be a “public health message to families,” saying: “It’s good that children are not too often, or even at all, in front of a screen before the age of seven.”

The cons of bringing your smartphone to work

Is this a “public health message” more employers should follow? Yes, a phone makes it easier than ever to connect with our colleagues and answer our work emails on the go. But there has been overwhelming evidence compiled about technology’s distracting effect on our minds. Even if you are not leaving it at home, there is mental peace to be gained by putting your phone out of sight.

A phone’s nearby presence distracts us, lowering our ability to reason and think clearly. And technology may help you write more quickly, but it may not help you remember what you wrote. Students who write longhand notes are able to retain more complex information than students typing notes on laptops, one study found.

When our phones are not our constant companions, it is easier for us to concentrate. Whether you are a French student or a harried employee debating whether or not to take your phone into a meeting, your memory can improve when you limit your smartphone usage.