London School Extends Day to 12 Hours to Combat Smartphone Addiction

London school extends day to 12 hours to tackle student smartphone addiction, offering enriching activities to replace digital screens and promote real-life connections.

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London School Extends Day to 12 Hours to Combat Smartphone Addiction

London School Extends Day to 12 Hours to Combat Smartphone Addiction

Andrew O'Neill, the headteacher of All Saints Catholic College in Notting Hill, London, has announced plans to extend the school day to 12 hours, from 7am to 7pm, starting in April 2024. The bold move aims to combat the pervasive issue of smartphone addiction among the school's 900 pupils, aged 11 to 16.

O'Neill believes that smartphones are creating an "apathetic and anxious generation of children," with some engaging in concerning online behavior like blackmail, catfishing, sexting, and cyberbullying. The school originally banned phones in 2016, but now allows students to keep them in lockers. However, O'Neill remains worried about the impact on students' social skills and their ability to make real-life friends, as many are playing online games late into the night.

The inventive strategy involves substituting the appeal of digital screens with a wide array of enriching activities, such as dodgeball, basketball, art, drama, and cooking classes. O'Neill hopes the extended school day will provide students with a more traditional childhood experience, where they play outside rather than resort to online entertainment. "The longer school day, which will include activities like dodgeball, basketball, art, drama, and cooking, will prevent students from spending excessive time on their phones after classes," he stated.

Why this matters: The issue of smartphone addiction among youth is a growing concern, with potential impacts on mental health, social development, and academic performance. All Saints Catholic College's unique approach to addressing this problem could serve as a model for other schools grappling with similar challenges in the digital age.

While critics argue that a 12-hour school day may not fully solve the problem, O'Neill remains committed to breaking the cycle of smartphone addiction and shaping the next generation's relationship with technology and human connection. The headteacher, who was named Headteacher of the Year, believes that this extended school day will help "break the cycle of students going home and immediately using their phones." Other schools have also implemented measures to limit smartphone use, such as locking devices away in special pouches throughout the day, but All Saints Catholic College's 12-hour day stands out as one of the most ambitious efforts to date.

Key Takeaways

  • London school extends day to 12 hrs (7am-7pm) to combat student smartphone addiction.
  • Headteacher believes smartphones create "apathetic and anxious" students, impacting social skills.
  • School to replace digital screens with enriching activities like sports, art, and cooking.
  • Aims to provide students with a "traditional childhood" and prevent excessive phone use.
  • Approach could serve as a model for other schools tackling youth smartphone addiction.