Guernsey headteacher urges government to completely ban smartphones for under-16s

  • ITV Channel reporter Roisin Gauson has spoken to a Guernsey headteacher who wants tougher rules on smartphone use

The headteacher of a school in Guernsey is urging the island's government to completely ban under-16s from using and buying smartphones.

It follows a push in the UK towards phone-free learning environments.

Ladies' College currently has a phone ban in the school building but Principal Daniele Harford-Fox wants this to be extended.

She explains: "My concern is that we can see growing evidence of a massive rise in mental health challenges in young people and that correlates exactly with the invention of the smartphone.

"My worry is that the technology that we are using is actually shaping children's brains differently and therefore leading to some of the really negative outcomes."

Daniele Harford-Fox says she is concerned about the impact that smartphone devices can have on brain development. Credit: ITV Channel

Daniele continues: "Whilst the evidence at this point is still early, I think it's the time to start having the conversation as to 'do we want our children exposed to this and are we willing to make difficult decisions to protect them?'.

"I think we also have to start listening to parents, when you speak to them, they know.

"They can see this isn't having a great impact on their children, but it's so difficult as an individual parent to manage that conflict.

"Therefore, if we take collective action, we are in a position where we can actually protect our children."

There has been a recent push in the UK towards phone-free learning environments. Credit: ITV News

According to a report by the media regulator Ofcom in 2022, most children get their first phone between the ages of 9 and 11.

In a high-profile incident in the UK, Brianna Ghey was murdered by two teenagers who had watched violent content online.

Brianna herself was addicted to her phone and it had impacted her mental health, with Brianna's mother since meeting the British Prime Minister to call for age restrictions on the sale of smartphones.

Speaking to ITV News, Guernsey's Education Committee President, Deputy Andrea Dudley Owen, says she is sympathetic to the intention behind the calls for a ban and confirmed that schools have a significant problem in terms of mental health issues and safeguarding.

However, she feels a ban would be unachievable and instead thinks the focus should be on controls over accessibility.

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