BENENDEN SCHOOL has announced that its Phone Fast – a short-term ban on pupils using mobiles – will become a ‘regular occurrence’ after the overwhelming success of its three-day trial.
From Sunday night until Wednesday lunchtime last week, pupils lived without their devices and social media was blocked on the school network.
The initiative, which was developed in partnership with Sixth Formers at the girls’ independent school, was aimed at helping students to reduce their reliance on digital technology.
And the feedback has been so positive that the school is now looking to maintain the momentum by repeating the Phone Fast.
It is an issue facing all schools, but Benenden felt it was in a special position to try the experiment because of its boarding environment.
Headmistress Samantha Price said: “The response from the girls has been tremendous. The message from them has been clear – they haven’t struggled to adjust at all, and have actually enjoyed the freedom that being without their phones has brought.”
Mrs Price, who also surrendered her phone for the trial, added: “The girls have been playing games with their friends, chatting with one another and enjoying the magnificent grounds we are lucky to have here.
“In short, they have been having fun – instead of constantly seeking affirmation through social media ‘likes’.
“The feedback from our pupils has been incredibly positive, so much so that we will now be making Phone Fasts a regular occurrence.”
The first attempt officially came to an end at 1pm on March 15, and was marked by a phone-themed party, with cakes featuring app icons and a giant phone screen where the girls to take pictures of one another.
Mrs Price said: “All of us in modern society rely too heavily on phones and digital communications and the girls have shown us that breaking that habit can be enormously beneficial.
“I would encourage everyone – including parents, teachers and young people – to give up their phones for a few days, just to see what a difference it may make.”
Victoria Molloy, Benenden’s Head Girl, said: “I think a lot of the girls found life without their phones much easier than they had expected.
“Everyone has been saying to me that they have really quite enjoyed not having the constant pressure of checking their phones in the evening.”
Benenden already has strict rules about the use of mobiles: Until girls reach Year 11, they hand their phones in at night – and no mobiles are allowed in school during the day.
However, Sixth Formers are allowed to use their phones during the day, though they are not allowed in lessons without permission.
The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has recently warned that social media companies were not doing enough to ensure children understood the ramifications of sharing their personal information.
call it a success Students at Benenden enjoy their phone-themed party after the ‘fast’ ended