SPAIN’S Murcia region has banned schoolchildren from switching on their mobile phones in classrooms with other areas of the country only allowing them for emergency reasons.

Catalunya has also decided to implement a ban along the same lines.

Murcia’s Education Minister Victor Marin said: “The possession of mobile phones in the classroom has no legal place, we cannot regulate it, but we can establish that they remain switched off.”

Marin said they adopted the ban after verifying the distraction it represents for students.

The average time it takes a student to regain attention after receiving a phone message or notification is around 20 minutes, according to UNESCO’s 2023 GEM report.

In addition, 20% of serious offences committed by high school and vocational training students in Murcia are related to the inappropriate use of mobile phones.

Castilla-La Mancha and Galicia banned phones for personal use almost a decade ago with the Madrid region following suit in 2020.

Other regions, such as the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, the Valencian Community, Extremadura, and Navarre have now made it clear they plan to introduce regulations to limit phones after consulting with schools.

Asturias already has a draft measure set for approval while the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Mellila have rules in place.

Andalucia, the Canary Islands, and Aragon already have mandatory laws where phones are strictly limited and can only be used to assist certain students in classes or for medical emergencies.

The Basque Country has left it up to individual schools to decide what they should do.

The State School Council ? the Government’s highest advisory body on education matters ? unanimously approved last week to recommend that phones be prohibited in primary schools and to have restricted use in special circumstances in secondary institutions, but would have to be switched off when pupils enter centres.

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