Ungdom håller i mobiltelefon

Mobile phone ban in school does not work

Since the first of August 2022, using mobile phones for other purposes than educational is forbidden in the classroom. A doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg shows that the law is problematic. The pupils need the mobile phones in their schoolwork and they manage to find ways to bring the phones into the classroom despite the ban.

Filosofie doktor Anita Grigic Magnusson
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Pupils’ use of private mobile phones in school has been a hot topic for a long time. Many people have been in favor of a ban, which became a reality this summer. In her doctoral thesis, Anita Grigic Magnusson has studied how two lower and two upper secondary school pupils reason regarding the use of mobile phones in the classroom. She has also studied how a team of teachers have implemented a ban in their classrooms.

Digital tools integrated in the teaching

In her doctoral thesis, Anita Grigic Magnusson shows that there is a dilemma in the digital school by on the one hand a continuous integration work of digital tools in the teaching, and on the other hand the mobile phone restrictions that now have support in the school law.

According to Anita Grigic Magnusson, a ban does not make that much of a difference. The mobile phones are being used anyway.

– The big difference is that at schools where they have a ban, a large part of the use is underhand and also more or less exclusively for matters that are not school related. Even if the teacher collects the mobile phones before each class, both teachers and pupils tell her that the pupils find strategies to elude the school’s and the teachers’ rules. They hand in empty phone cases, they claim to have forgotten the phones at home, or that ‘it’s in the locker’.

Important to learn the right approach

The doctoral thesis shows that pupils who go to schools without a mobile phone ban say that they mostly use their phones to school related matters, even if they do use them for other things as well. This way to use the mobile phones in school guides the pupils on when to use them and for what purposes.

– A total ban though, that doesn’t seem to work. Meanwhile, the schools need to have clear guidelines and a clear purpose for how and when the pupils can use their mobile phones. The pupils need to learn an approach.

Strengthens the teachers’ profession

But there are also benefits with the new law.

– The law has provided teachers and principals with greater authority and a strengthened profession meaning that they can now lean towards the law to maintain classes free from mobile phones. They haven’t been able to do that before.


Title: Användning av mobiltelefoner i den digitaliserade skolan: Elevers och lärares perspektiv

Contact: Anita Grigic Magnusson, mobile phone: 070−982 9102, e-mail:


Text: Agnes Ekstrand