These days it seems we’re adopting collections of new online conveniences every year that we can’t imagine having ever lived without. Have we been going too fast? Over the last five years, the French Government has passed a number of laws in the tech-communications space which I imagine will eventually shift public attitudes towards wireless device use. Can you imagine these three laws passing in your country?
September 1st 2018, All students under the age of 15 years are banned from using smartphones at school.
My eighth birthday was a special one. I was finally old enough own a watch! This was a family tradition, a right of passage to mark I was responsible enough to wear a nice timepiece and start managing my own time. This may seem a little old-fashioned now, but can you imagine an eight-year-old owning a smartphone? I’m told some primary school aged kids do and are posting selfies in the playground at recess!
I find the prospect of young kids being responsible for managing internet enabled devices startling. If we adults have become reliant on and addicted to our devices over the last 10 years (checking them up to 80 times a day), how will this affect the growing brains of our children? Scientific research is showing us that overuse of our phones is altering our brain chemistry, giving us little dopamine hits where they don’t belong, not to mention a growing list of cons including melatonin depletion, behavioural problems, Facebook depression, cyberbullying and my pet peeve, microwave radiation. Of course, encouraging responsible device use begins at home, but wouldn’t a smartphone ban at primary and middle schools across the board make nurturing healthy tech relationships easier for parents, teacher and kids?
January 1st, 2017. “The Right to Disconnect”. French workplaces with more than 50 employees should not SEND or ANSWER emails from 6pm – 7am or on the weekends.
Yes, this a law!
My relationship with email has gone a bit sour. It all got a little out of hand. Sure, at the beginning in the early 2000s there was the occasional par Avon style email from a friend enjoying a trip overseas, but slowly and surely I became more and more connected to work email after hours. Firstly with a work laptop then with a smartphone. Somewhere in there was a mass shift in the work arena toward favouring email communication, and on top of that, even phone calls and face to face meetings started to require a backup email summarizing a discussion. In short, in my mind – more emails equal more work.
French MP Benoit Hamon says, after people leave their office “they remain attached (to their email) by a kind of electronic leash, like a dog. That statement rings true for me. Seeing an email notification summary pop up on my phone is a recipe for personal life distraction, I’m not the kind of person who can switch off easily from ruminating over creative ideas, problem-solving, urgent requests, feedback and issues.
Do we need to be treated like children who don’t have enough self-control to abstain from work email after hours?… well for me, yes. To be honest, I have been more likely the person smashing out emails after hours, trying to earn some prepared peace of mind. I haven’t considered the impact on others before, after all, unlike a call or text, email is a silent knock on the door. The problem is in these times of smartphones and popup notifications, many of us are constantly checking the door and are more likely to see and entertain an unintended visitor.
Imagine a world where it’s poor etiquette to send work emails (is there any other kind?) after hours. I like it! I don’t think anyone will go to jail in France for sending a work email at 8pm, but I hope it will foster a culture of “work only at work”. That may mean things just have to wait…. and that’s OK.
Since Jan 29 2015, National Laws were passed in France to ban Wifi in Nursery Schools and minimize Wifi use in primary schools (ie turn off routers when not being used).
In a world where 13% of 2-year-olds know how to order their own apps, this is a bold move that adds validity to the argument that it’s too risky to expose our youngsters to microwave radiation. We don’t know what the long-term effects will be.
In 2011, The World Health Organisation classified microwave radiation as a Class 2B Possible Human Carcinogen. This microwave radiation is the very same that is emitted from phone towers, wifi routers, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches and any other wireless transmitting device (when Wifi or data is ON). Just like sun exposure, some people are more sensitive to radiation absorption and it’s harmful effects. Just as we have become strict about hats and sunscreen for youngsters in the sun, we should be taking a more precautionary approach towards microwave radiation around little ones. Children absorb more microwave radiation compared to adults because their brain tissue is more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and they are of course smaller in size.
I wonder how school wifi is set up and if it would be easy for a teacher to turn off a classroom wireless router when not in use (as they do in France). Teachers – please leave a comment if you know how your school Wifi works!
So, do you think these laws are Nanny State or Progressive Government?
I’m not anti-tech, in fact, I love the convenience and immediate access to a world of information. I just think we’ve adopted continuous online connectivity into our lives too quickly and without question.
We should be encouraged to “Enjoy (our tech) Responsibly”, and that’s probably the job of good government……, right?