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Italy to crack down on use of mobile phones in schools

Move to affect schools up to junior high school level.

Italy is to crack down on the use of smartphones and tablets in school classrooms, from kindergarten up to lower high schools, education minister Giuseppe Valditara said on Thursday.

The minister told newspaper Il Foglio that the move relates to the "often improper use" of electronic devices, that can result in tension between students and teachers, in some cases leading to aggression against school staff.

Valditara said the new guidelines advise against "the use of smartphones in nursery, primary and lower secondary schools", with the educational use of tablets only recommended for primary schools.

The minister also cited last year's UNESCO recommendation that smartphones be banned from schools as they distract students and have a negative impact on their learning.

The move by Valditara is part of the long-running debate on cell phones at school which goes back almost 20 years.

Italy first introduced a ban on the use of phones during lessons in 2007, under guidelines issued by then minister Giuseppe Fioroni, who declared that phones were a "distracting element" and represented "a serious lack of respect for the teacher".

In December 2022, a few weeks after taking office, Valditara sent a circular to all schools in which he confirmed the ban on the use of mobile phones in the classroom, only allowing their use for educational and training purposes.

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