Britain’s Most Elite Boarding School Is Banning Smartphones

Eton College is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious schools. But it’s not trying to be the most connected.

During the upcoming school year, the boys’ boarding school is banning the use of smartphones among its 13-year-old students, Digital Trends reported on Tuesday. The SIM card from a child’s smartphone will instead be transferred to a Nokia handset that Eton is giving to students, with only the ability to call and text.

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“When used responsibly and in moderation, [smartphones] can be a key part of life for the modern teenager and can create positive social networks and give access to news and views from around the world,” Mike Grenier, the school’s deputy head, said in a note to parents. “However, despite these positives, there are also associated challenges and potential areas for concern, especially around socialization, misuse, and overuse, and the impact on both mental and physical health.”

The new policy is in response to these concerns that smartphones and social media may be detrimental to children’s mental health and well-being, Digital Trends noted. And the school is hoping that the lack of smartphones will result in fewer disruptions and better behavior during class. Eton said “age-appropriate controls” will be in place for other students, and the school is giving out iPads for educational use.

Eton, which was founded almost 600 years ago, has educated some of the most notable Englishmen in history. The list includes British prime ministers such as Boris Johnson and David Cameron, Prince William and Prince Harry, actor Eddie Redmayne, and James Bond creator Ian Fleming. The school is also known for its natty uniforms, courtesy of the menswear label New & Lingwood, which even has an outpost in New York City.

While it wasn’t made clear which sort of Nokia phone Eton students will be given in the fall, Digital Trends speculated that it could be the new Nokia 3210, which one user called “the worst phone I’ve used in 2024.” Without any apps, the boys will have to go without TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like. Thankfully, though, the phone does offer the classic cellphone game Snake.

The early aughts really are having a bit of a renaissance—from the current fashions to technology, it seems.

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