Ontario to ban cellphone usage and social media in schools

Ontario just announced a cellphone and social media ban coming to the province’s schools in an effort to remove “distractions from classrooms” as part of a “back-to-basics plan.”

The news is likely to be welcomed by teachers and school administrators but unpopular among students who have long appreciated the freedom to text and call friends and family during the school day, or use the device for gaming, access to the internet or other uses during free time.

The provincial government is calling the ban “the most comprehensive plan in Canada to reduce distractions in classrooms and improve the health of children.”

The new rules follow similar announcements in Florida which banned cellphones during “instructional time” at schools last year and recently announced restrictions on social media for those 16 and under.

Here’s how the cellphone and social media ban at Ontario schools will work:

  • Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be required to keep phones on silent and out of sight for the entire school day, unless explicitly permitted by an educator.
  • Students in grades 7 to 12 will not be permitted to use cellphones during class time unless explicitly directed by the educator.
  • Social media websites will be removed from all school networks and devices, and report cards will include comments on students’ distraction levels in class.
  • The government will provide mandatory training for teachers and new support for students and parents in order to navigate the new rules.

In addition to the new cellphone ban, the Ontario government also announced new rules regarding the use of cigarettes and vaping products at schools. These include:

  • Students will be required to surrender these products if found using them.
  • Parents will be notified immediately of the situation.
  • The government will install vape detectors and other security upgrades in schools to help enforce the new rules.

These new rules are scheduled to start when the new school year begins in September 2024.