While the state has decided to ban cellphones in schools, health experts have questioned the whole premise of teenagers being allowed to use a cellphone in the first place.
While the ban is welcome, school counsellors and psychologists are more worried about the rising dependence of children on their mobiles.
The state has imposed a fine of Rs 50 for students who use cellphones on school campus and Rs 100 for teachers who use mobiles in classrooms.
“The average age of owning a mobile in Mumbai is 12 now,” said Ambreen Pradhan, child psychologist, Masina Institute of Behavioural Science, which works with schools across the city.
“The problem is beyond school premises. If a mobile is meant only for communication, it makes sense but children are addicted to their mobiles. This hampers their observation skills. For example, earlier we would remember phone numbers, but now children don’t feel the need to.”
A recent Swedish research at University Hospital in Orebro suggests that children below 16 are five times more prone to brain tumour.
Children and young adults have smaller heads and thinner skulls, which allows the radiation from mobile phones to penetrate deeper into the brain.
“Health issues apart, a mobile gives a child more privacy than he is equipped to handle. I have students coming in grumbling about how their outdated model is affecting their image,” said Jeevan D’Cunha, a school counsellor. “The mobile has become a status symbol and parents are the one responsible for indulging children.”
But parents plead haplessness. “I had to buy my 13-year-old daughter a mobile, and a better model than mine, because that was the only incentive to get her to study,” said Priya Menda, a Juhu resident.