New pupils at Eton, the poshest of Britain's elite private schools, are banned from using smartphones

London — Eton College, perhaps Britain's most posh and elite boarding school, is banning new students from owning smartphones.

Eton, located near the Royal Palace at Windsor, just west of London, is known for its academic excellence. Notable alumni include Princes William and Harryas well as novelist George Orwell, James Bond creator Ian Fleming and a long list of former prime ministers, including recent leaders Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

The ban, which is due to come into effect in September, follows the UK government's decision issued guidelines We support school principals who decide to ban cell phone use during the school day in an effort to minimize disruption and improve classroom behavior.

Winter weather 10 Jan 2024
Eton College, west of London, is seen in a photo dated January 10, 2024.

Andrew Matthews/PA Images/Getty


Parents of first-year students at Eton, where tuition is more than $60,000 a year, were informed of the changes in a letter, which said that incoming 13-year-old boarders would have to take their smart devices home after having their SIM cards transferred to offline Nokia phones issued by the school, which could only make calls and send basic text messages.

Under Eton's previous rules, first-year students had to hand in their devices at night.

“Eton routinely reviews our policies on mobile phones and devices to balance the benefits and challenges that technology brings to schools,” a school spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday, adding that students entering ninth grade, which is essentially the first year of high school for U.S. students, “are issued a 'brick' phone for use outside of school hours, as well as a school-provided iPad to support academic study.”

Eton v Harrow cricket match, Lords
Boys from Eton College celebrate the first wicket of the day during the Eton v Harrow cricket match at Lords Cricket Ground, pictured on May 12, 2023 in London, England.

Tom Jenkins/Getty


The spokesperson added that “age-specific controls remain in place for other age groups.”

According to Ofcom, the UK government's communications regulator, 97% of children have their own mobile phone by the age of 12.

A recent study was published in the US by Common Sense Media found that about 91% of children own a smartphone by age 14. Similar policies for smartphones have been introduced in schools in the USranging from complete bans to restricted use at specific times or in specific areas. In the 2021-2022 school year, about 76% of schools banned non-academic use of smartphones, according to the US Department of Education.

Bans have been met with mixed reactions, as some argue that these personal devices can also have curricular benefits, such as allowing students to participate in live surveys or access content and data during lessons. Some parents have also concerns expressed that phone bans can prevent their children from being able to reach them during potential emergencies.

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