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Mobile phone ownership has become standard for people of most ages, and, while there’s a convenience argument, experts and regulators alike have expressed concerns about children’s well-being and distraction while learning. To that end, the UK government has become the latest to announce guidance for banning the use of phones during school. It follows other European countries like France and Italy, which prohibit phones in classrooms.

Some schools in the UK already have no-phone policies in place, but these guidelines could bring widespread adoption and uniformity. “This is about achieving clarity and consistency in practice, backing headteachers and leaders and giving staff confidence to act,” Gillian Keegan, the UK’s secretary of state for education, said in a release. “Today’s children are growing up in an increasingly complex world, living their lives on and offline. This presents many exciting opportunities – but also challenges. By prohibiting mobile phones, schools can create safe and calm environments free from distraction so all pupils can receive the education they deserve.”

While the UK government encourages schools to create their own policies, it outlines a few overarching options. The first — and most extreme — is a complete ban on mobile phones from school premises. However, the guidance acknowledges that this could create complications or risks for children when traveling to and from school. The next option takes care of that problem while still taking phones away. It suggests having students hand in their phones when arriving at school.

Then there’s the locker route, where phones are kept strictly in students’ lockers or whatever personal storage they get at school. While this allows students to keep possession of their device, it still wouldn’t be usable at any point in the day, even when accessing the locker during breaks. The final option aligns with what many schools do — let students keep their phones in their bags, but they should be turned off and never accessed.

The guidance also recommends teaching students about the mobile phone’s potentially harmful impact on young people. Study after study has found that social media, in particular, can negatively impact young people’s mental health. The UK government argues that, in addition to combating the social media issue, restricting phone use can increase students’ concentration, time being active and spending time with peers face-to-face.

Parents are encouraged to contact the school directly rather than through a private phone if they need to get in touch with their child. The guidance also encourages parents to discuss the rules at home and, once again, the risks of phones and the internet.

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