Benenden’s Phone Fast is now over after pupils were handed back their mobile phones at 1pm today (Wednesday 15 March).
The girls lived without their phones from 9pm on Sunday. Social media was also blocked on the School’s network for students during this period in an attempt to help reduce reliance on digital technology. Girls were still able to contact home during the Phone Fast, as landline phones are available in each boarding house.
The Phone Fast was introduced as part of measures to raise awareness among girls and parents of the risks that social media presents to the wellbeing of young people. Staff were also invited to take part.
The initiative was developed in partnership with a group of Sixth Formers, who asked senior management and their boarding staff how they could encourage pupils to reduce, and manage more effectively, their mobile phone use.
Above: Girls hand in their phones as the phone fast starts
The issue of teenagers’ reliance on social media has frequently been in the media in recent weeks:
The Education and Health select committees announced a joint inquiry into the role that schools play in helping to prevent young people from developing mental health issues – a concern across schools of all types in the country and beyond.
This was followed by a report from the Children’s Commissioner in which she warned that social media companies were not doing enough to ensure children understood what they might do with their pictures, their words and their personal information.
Then, in her first major announcement of the calendar year, the Prime Minister unveiled plans to transform mental health services for young people.
The School already has strict rules around girls’ use of mobiles. Until girls reach Year 11, they hand their phones in at night and no phones are allowed in School during the day. Sixth Formers have the privilege of having their phones during the day as long as they are not seen in lessons without permission.