THERE clearly is a need for smartphones to be controlled in schools, and it is surely right that the Government has produced guidance which helps headteachers prevent their usage during lesson and break time.

In fact, it would be a major surprise if a school did not have its own stringent policy.

It is easy to see that a smartphone, chirruping or vibrating away in a lesson, would be a major distraction; it is easy to see that children would be able to access inappropriate content on their phone, be it a football goal or a social media feed; it is easy to see how an expensive device in a playground could become a focus for bullying activities.

Countries like France, Italy and New Zealand have already banned phones from schools. The Netherlands is about to follow suit, and China is considering limiting children’s access to smartphones to two hours a day with a complete ban between 10pm and 6am.

There are also calls in this country for children to have a phone-free childhood until they reach 14 and be banned from social media until they are 16.

These are all ideas worth considering, although really the pressure should be on the social media companies themselves to ensure all their content is suitable, and they don’t even seem to have the will to do that at the moment. Indeed, the chief executives of the companies made a painful appearance before a Senate hearing in the US last month where parents held up pictures of their children who had died due to social media sexual exploitation or harassment.

Yet for many parents, smartphones are also a way of ensuring their children’s safety through constant contact.

Smartphones are here to stay and, in the future, are going to become even more enmeshed in every aspect of our lives. Our young people need to be shown the dangers as well as the positives – imagine having a set of encyclopaedias in their pockets – and taught how to use them safely because in the world outside the classroom, they will be with them every single second of every single day.