Despite govt. ban, many students continue to take mobiles to school; gadget addiction a concern

Flouting a ban requires ingenuity and resource.

School students in the city are displaying high levels of both, as of late, in increasing numbers, schools have found mobile phones in bags, hidden masterfully amidst voluminous school textbooks and innocuous geometry boxes.

The phones cost anywhere between Rs. 1,500 to an amount that is equal to or exceeding annual school fees.

Despite a government ban on students carrying mobile phones to school, and schools individually issuing circulars, this “addictive” gadget continues to find its way into several classrooms.

Lavanya, a high school student says that in her class of 40, at least 10 or 15 carry mobile phones, and not always because it is a necessity.

“I go for tuitions, and many there have told me they carry mobile phones to school,” she says. “One student brought an iPad to class one day because it was new,” she says, adding that in most cases, students don’t get caught because they know how to hide the instruments, and seldom use them within school.

However, schools are becoming increasingly vigilant to deal with violations. “One of my friends got caught because she was using it right outside school,” Lavanya observes.

Students from across schools say that while some carry it because they live far away and attend tuitions, some bring it just for a thrill. Talking about the “surprise raids” they conduct, Revathy Bonns, principal and correspondent, Madras Christian College Matriculation Higher Secondary School, says that most often when students get caught carrying phones, parents are supportive of them.

“When both parents are working, giving a child a phone to keep a tab on them is convenient. For children who have genuine reasons, we ask them to hand it over to the office and collect it while leaving,” she says. CCTV cameras installed in the school too, help teachers monitor the use of mobile phones, she adds.

However, the increasing number of students carrying mobile phones to schools is indicative of a larger problem, where youngsters are growing addicted to the gadgets, say experts.

V. Shyamsundar, a student, says that of late, some of his friends prefer playing games on their android phones, and refuse to come outside and play.

Ragini Srinivasan, student counsellor, says this trend is disturbing. “Ninety-nine per cent of parents complain about the excessive usage of the mobile phone, but it is parents who buy these phones in the first place. More than talking, students incessantly text message because it is more economical,” she says.

It all begins with: “all my friends have a phone and I want one too”, she says, adding that peer pressure leads to their demanding the latest models.

Ms. Srinivasan says she has even seen students in classes II and III being given phones. Parents, she says, often complain their child is texting even while studying. More than their social life, it is their health that gets affected, because they stay up late at night texting and playing games,” she says. However, the attraction, she feels, will never die. “It is up to parents to draw the line,” she adds.

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