Tokyo, March 26: Soaring mobile phone use and rising bullying rates have prompted one Japanese city to issue a nightly curfew on mobile devices after 9pm from next month.
Around 13,000 schoolchildren, aged between six and 15, who are living in Kariya city, Aiichi prefecture, will be banned from using mobile technology in the evening from April 1.
The technology curfew move reportedly aims to discourage children from spending an unhealthy amount of time on electronic devices such as smartphones as well as reduce on-line bullying via instant messaging apps.
The ban, which was initially proposed by a group of teachers, social workers and police, was not officially issued by city hall so parents will not face any penalties if their children do not comply, according to Japanese media reports.
However, the initiative is reportedly supported by Kariya’s board of education as well as all 21 schools across the city, with parents being directly requested to remove smartphones after 9pm and monitor the websites they access.
The new initiative is being launched just weeks after the government released statistics reflecting the increasingly extensive use of smartphones among Japan’s school population.
The figures, released by the cabinet office, found that schoolchildren aged between 10 and 17 were spending an average of 107.4 minutes a day on-line on their phones, with nearly 40 per cent spending more than two hours a day on-line.
There has been growing controversy in Japan surrounding the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren, with claims of bullying relating to the a number of popular messaging apps.
Among them is Line, a widely-used free instant messaging and image sharing app which has been linked with cases of bullying among children, prompting calls for it to be banned on school premises. The potentially harmful impact of heavy mobile phone use among children is an increasingly important issue for teachers, parents and government officials around the world.
A growing number of schools are considering mobile phone bans for pupils, with one successful example in the UK being Burnage Media Arts College in south Manchester, which reported soaring academic results following such a ban.
The Netherlands launched the first “paperless” summit with a smartphone app at a nuclear security meeting in The Hague replacing the traditional imitation leather conference bag stuffed with handouts.
The app, which is available for Android and Apple smartphones as well as on the web, was developed by summit sponsor ImgZine and boasts live schedule updates, pictures of The Hague, and a GPS-linked map to guide visitors through the ultra-secure maze of buildings where the summit was being held.
Government spokesman Frank Wassenaar said that when the Dutch Prime Minister had to send someone else at the last minute to attend the Seoul nuclear security summit two years ago, the Koreans had to pulp and reprint 15,000 programme booklets.
“We would just send an update to the app,” he said.