‘Education is the solution’: the Gloucester excessive school imposing a digital detox


ourteen-12 months-old friends Hannah Cox and Libby Shirnia admitted they were a bit shocked whilst their college introduced stringent new policies on cellular phones, smart watches, and Fitbit pastime monitors.

“Everyone’s response turned into: ‘This is so stressful.’” said Libby. “But then we chatted approximately it and the notion it might be an amazing issue. It’s the worst element while you’re having a verbal exchange and a person is doing that [Libby mimes tapping and sliding on a smart screen].



Pupils at Stroud excessive faculty with their smartphones.
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Pupils at Stroud excessive school with their smartphones. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian
Hannah stated it did get perplexing whilst you tried to maintain more than one conversations happening or 3 specific media structures. “Maybe you need to simply communicate to your pals in real lifestyles – stunning, I realize.”

Libby and Hannah’s faculty, Stroud excessive in Gloucestershire, hit the headlines this week after it emerged that it turned into clamping down on cellular devices. What grabbed the attention was the idea that the flow became in part because of concerns that some ladies have been becoming obsessed with counting steps and energy – and skipping food to make certain they met their targets.

But the drive isn’t always just about that. The school, an academy broadly speaking for ladies, is involved that mobile gadgets are main to dependency to social media – in addition to counting steps.


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When students return from their summer spoil, girls in years seven to nine will be banned from the use of their devices at all at some point of the faculty day. Those in years 10 and eleven can be allowed to apply their devices at lunch, whilst scholars in the sixth form – which includes boys – could be allowed to apply them freely except in training.

Stroud excessive faculty is speedy turning into something of a pioneer in its willpower to cope with problems due to cellular devices. Hannah and Libby had been amongst a set of ladies who penned a letter addressed to the “boys and younger guys of Gloucestershire, Great Britain and the world” explaining why they did no longer need to be forced to send explicit images and did now not want to receive such images.

The school has additionally begun to paintings with neighborhood primary colleges, mental fitness services, and nearby government to draw up programs and techniques aimed at tackling issues due to social media.


“Girls are constantly comparing themselves to every different,” said deputy headteacher Cindi Pride. “‘She has got longer hair, blonder hair, higher clothes, higher vacations.’ People handiest ever put up the golden parts of their lives. That consistent evaluation is highly damaging.”

Hannah Cox, Libby Shirnia and Jess Houston
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Hannah Cox (left) and Libby Shirnia (right) who initiated a sexting focus campaign, with Jess Houston (centre) who took component in the digital detox week. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/for the Guardian
Earlier this yr the school ran a survey in which almost three-quarters of college students said they take a look at or reply to social media “continuously”. More than half of had been taking their telephones to mattress. But the statistic that alarmed Pride turned into that extra than half of of key degree 3 pupils (elderly eleven-14) stated they would really like to feel more in control in their use of social media.

“If that wasn’t a cri de coeur, I don’t realize what was. They need greater control, they patently don’t recognize a way to do it, or they would be doing it. We want to attempt to assist them. A school is a place wherein you ought to be capable of learning, have a laugh, have actual friendships, now not be speak me to every different across the room via Snapchat.”

The findings tally with a string of educational studies. The Office for National Statistics discovered, as an instance, that 12% of youngsters who spend no time on social networking websites on a regular school day have signs and symptoms of intellectual ill health; the discern rises to 27% for people who are on the websites for 3 or extra hours a day.

Around 400 scholars and adults at Stroud high college took component in a week-long “digital detox” after they gave up their devices and at home. Benefits the ladies reported protected having more free time and feeling less confused.

Pride said the focal point on Fitbits were blown out of share. But she stated: “I for my part don’t assume that fit and healthful young girls in an surroundings like this want to be counting every step. The quantity of Fitbits and clever watches on young girls with perfectly normal frame shapes is quite alarming. I don’t recognize why people have this obsession monitoring each breath they’re taking.”

Pupils at Stroud high college.
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Pupils at Stroud excessive faculty. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian
Jess Houston, 16, is one of the folks who took element inside the week-lengthy digital detox. “It wasn’t as difficult as I predicted,” she said. “The first couple of days have been extraordinary, however by way of the end of the week I didn’t pass over it.”

Jess said her work stepped forward. “I used to warfare with homework. Usually, you write a sentence and you then test Snapchat. You rewrite the identical sentence. Homework that should take half an hour takes an hour and a half. That week I did the fine homework I’d finished in a while. I wasn’t worn-out. Usually, I would go to bed, however, be on my phone for an hour earlier than going to sleep. That week I awoke to have eight hours’ sleep and awakened feeling better, which turned into stunning actually.”

Actually, Jess thinks banning Fitbits is a shame. “I’ve visible how it may help. I’ve been using one for two years, it’s been instrumental in my combat to lose weight. There will always be a set of people who have the mentality to apply it in a bad way.

“Education is the answer. The venture is to alternate how human beings suppose. The technology in itself isn’t a problem – it’s how humans use it.”

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