Smartphone Ban in Class Sparks Mixed Reactions 

Students wearing protective face masks attend class at a school in Phnom Penh in 2020. Photo: AFP

PHNOM PENH – Banning smartphones during classes may reduce disruption but some people argue that it may hold students back from using digital devices to help their studies.  

Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, announced a ban on smartphone use in classrooms or during classes when the use is not relevant to the lessons and without the teacher’s permission. 

The rule aims to enhance the school rules and improve the efficiency of using electronic devices in educational institutions and prevent students from playing games or using social media during classes, according to the announcement on Oct. 24. 

Pa Chanroeun, president of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID), supported the ban because it was needed for teachers and students to ensure that students would not be disrupted. 

“The use of smartphones is a two-edged sword,” he said. 

“If they use their smartphone to do research on their lessons, it's a good thing. But if they only use the phone for social media, non-educational videos or games, it disrupts their learning.” 

On the other hand, Yong Kim Eng, president of the local People's Center for Development and Peace, has little trust in the success of the rule implementation because digital devices might help students with their studies and to communicate with their families in emergencies. 

Kim Eng said it would be more effective to lock all the phones away for security during classes. However, this method would not be practical as students may need the phones for research for their lessons. 

Meas Bunly, a communication specialist for UNICEF Cambodia, said UNICEF always encourages students to use “proper digital devices” for studying. The government and schools were the ones to determine those devices. 

Chanroeun and Kim Eng suggested that the ministry should also increase students’ digital literacy and internet use so that the students were aware of the right way to use phones for their educational benefits. 

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