Old-School Cool: Eton College Sends Students Back to the Nokia Age

Eton College ditches smartphones for Nokias: students to master texting and Snake instead of Snapchat and TikTok

Old-School Cool: Eton College Sends Students Back to the Nokia Age

There's a technological rebellion underway, and it's against giving students in the UK and the US access to the latest and greatest devices while they're on school grounds.

The latest institution to join this trend is none other than Boris Johnson's old haunt, Eton. This British boarding school has taken a significant step back, quite literally, by banning smartphones and permitting only basic communication devices, like the Nokia 3310 from 20 years ago.

Instead of the ubiquitous smartphone, these students are required to bring only their SIM cards and use them in old-school cell phones. The basic devices are limited to making calls and sending text messages.

The horror. Or does it make sense?

Distraction-free Society?

The idea, according to a report from CBS News, is to strip away the distractions of the internet and social media, thereby fostering a more focused and engaged learning environment.

This move aligns with recent UK government guidelines allowing school principals to enforce smartphone bans during the school day. It reflects a growing recognition of the adverse effects that constant connectivity can have on students' attention spans and overall learning experiences.

The Nokia 3310, released in 2000, is famous for its durability, long battery life, and iconic Snake game. Known as an indestructible phone, it remains a nostalgic favourite among early mobile users.

By reverting to these simpler devices, Eton College aims to encourage its students to fully engage in their studies and the school community.

Interestingly, this trend is not confined to the UK.

Across the Atlantic, American schools are also grappling with the challenge of managing students' smartphone use. According to data from Govspend, 41 states have at least one school district where students are required to place their smartphones in magnetically sealed Yondr pouches during school hours.

How It Works — Yondr
Yondr claims school can now become a "phone-free show", meaning students are more likely to have better concentration. Source: Yondr

This solution aims to curb distractions while still allowing students to have their phones on hand for emergencies.

While these measures might seem drastic to some, they underscore a growing recognition of the need to reclaim educational spaces from the pervasive influence of digital distractions.

Evidence suggests that concentration levels drop not only in educational settings but also in areas like sleep quality and driving performance, raising the question - do we need to be far more conscious of just how pervasive smartphone usage is?

By stepping back and embracing simpler technologies, schools hope to create an environment where students can focus more on learning and less on their screens.

Automobile manufacturers such as Hyundai are stripping back distracting touchscreens and sticking with tactile buttons, and there's plenty of research which suggests that you should drop the phone activity at least 30 minutes before bed.

So, as students at Eton College prepare to swap their iPhones for Nokias, perhaps they are not just stepping back but also moving forward—towards a more focused and enriching educational experience.

And who knows, they might even discover the joy of Snake in the process.