On July 4, 2023, something momentous happened in the Netherlands. The Dutch Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf issued an urgent guideline calling for the banning of all mobile telephones from Dutch high schools as of January 2024.

It’s just a guideline and not enforceable but it’s a big deal that the Dutch government has taken this step. Individual high schools are expected to develop their own specific terms related to the ban based on input from school leadership, teachers, parents and students.

At the end of the upcoming school year, the Dutch government will evaluate the effectiveness of the ban. If it is not effective, the Dutch government could take legal action to make the ban enforceable.

Minister Dijkgraaf is quoted as stating, “Even though mobile phones are almost intertwined with our lives, they do not belong in the classroom. 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, with all its consequences. We have to protect students against that.” (Translation from Dutch.)

Mobile phones may be used by students with specific medical needs or students with disabilities or if mobile phones are needed for digital literacy or usage relates directly to the content of the lesson.

A big ‘thank you’ to René Peters, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives, for campaigning for this ban. It is about time that schools have started taking action to limit the damage that phone usage, social media and attention distraction is having on teens.