Netherlands bans cell phone in schools following a similar move by Finland
By Kathryn Armstrong
Devices including mobile phones are set to be banned from classrooms to stop them from disrupting learning, the Dutch government has announced.
The initiative is being introduced in collaboration with schools and is to take effect at the start of next year. There will be some exceptions, including for students with medical needs or a disability, and for classes focused on digital skills.
The ban is not legally enforceable but may become so in the future. “Even though mobile phones are almost intertwined with our lives, they do not belong in the classroom,” said Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. “Students must be able to concentrate there and be given every opportunity to learn well. We know from scientific research that mobile phones disrupt this.”
Various studies have found limiting children’s screen time is linked to improved cognition and concentration. Other tech including tablets and smartwatches are also included in the Dutch ban.
The government said it would be up to individual schools to agree the exact rules with teachers, parents and pupils — including whether they wanted to completely ban devices from schools.
The scheme is the result of an agreement between the ministry, schools and related organisations. It will be reviewed at the end of the 2024/2025 school year to see how well it had worked and whether a legal ban is needed.
The announcement follows a similar decision by Finland last week. Its government announced it would change the law to make it easier to restrict the use of phones in schools.
Other countries, including England and France, have also proposed banning mobile phones to improve learning.