“They can tell their friends that they couldn’t reply because it was after 9 PM.”
Fushitoshi Ohashi, principal of Karigane Junior High School and head of a group of teachers, social workers and police in Kariya, Japan (in Aichi prefecture), hoping to lower the negative effects that increased smartphone use has on children by instituting a curfew on smartphones for children. The smartphone ban will be applicable to students in elementary and junior high school – they will not be allowed to use their cellular phones after 9:00 PM.
After 9 p.m., the kids will have to give the phones to their parents to refrain from using them.
The technology curfew move reportedly aims to discourage children from spending an unhealthy amount of time on electronic devices such as smartphones as well as reduce on-line bullying via instant messaging apps.
Mr. Ohashi says that an increasing number of kids use their handsets until late at night to communicate with friends, possibly causing educational problems. “They feel they have to reply because their friends will ask why they aren’t responding if they don’t,” Ohashi said.
The ban, which was initially proposed by the group of teachers, social workers and police, was not officially issued by city hall so parents will not face any penalties if their children do not comply, according to Japanese media reports.
However, the initiative is reportedly supported by Kariya’s board of education as well as all 21 schools across the city, with parents being directly requested to remove smartphones after 9 pm and monitor the websites their children access.
“They feel they have to reply because their friends will ask why they aren’t responding if they don’t,” Ohashi said. “When this happens, they can’t study even if they want to because they are preoccupied with communicating…it’s hard to just ignore (messages).”
After the new rule is put in place, “they can tell their friends that they couldn’t reply because it was after 9 p.m. We will start this (rule) to give children a reason (to get away from cellphones),” he said.
According to Ohashi, some parents have said the rule will make it easier for them to tell their children to stop playing games on their phones, which can last late into the night.