Two years after schools and colleges in Karnataka imposed a ban on use of cell phones, the coalition government has decided to prohibit these gadgets among children below 16 years, citing adverse health effects.
An official notification of the ban will be announced in the next couple days, according to Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Basavaraj Horatti and Minister for Health and Family Welfare R Ashok. Their two ministries will write a joint letter to the Law Department for advice on a foolproof method to implement the ban. The ministries will also seek the department’s opinion on whether such a ban will be legal, the ministers told reporters here.
The state government’s decision, however, has come two years after educational institutions decided to restrict the use of mobile phones. These institutions took the decision in 2005 soon after New Delhi banned mobile phones in schools in the aftermath of an multimedia messaging service (MMS) clip of a sexual act between minor students was sent out to mobile phones and later posted on an online auction site. All engineering and medical colleges too have implemented the ban in order to prevent misuse of cell phones during practicals and examinations.
Horatti said his ministry will also inform schools affiliated to CBSE and ICSE on its decision and pass on a copy of the notification (due in next couple of days) to stores which sell cell phones. Ashok said mobile phones were a nuisance on campuses and were harmful to the health of schoolchildren. Since cell phones were seen as a status symbol, more and more kids were asking their parents to gift them such phones.
“We don’t market our services to children. Our target segment is college students,” said V Venkatesh, CEO of Airtel Karnataka. “Hence, from the company’s marketing point of view, the decision will not make any difference to us,” Venkatesh said. School principals welcomed the move. “It is good. Nowadays many students are losing interest in studies as they are busy using the mobile,” said Vani Surendra, headmistress of Jnana Mitra School.