By RYO MIYAZAKI/ Staff Writer
June 25, 2020 at 18:05 JST
Students who are allowed to bring their mobile phones take a picture of themselves on graduation day in March 2020. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
The calls of junior high school students have been answered.
From July, they will be allowed to bring their smartphones and other mobile devices to school, the education ministry decided on June 24.
But the newfound freedom comes with three conditions listed by the ministry.
Parents are asked to restrict the browsing function on their children's phones, and teachers and parents must inform kids about risks involved with mobile phones and using them safely.
Schools also need to clarify where the phones will be stored and who will be responsible if the devices are lost at schools.
The education ministry will notify boards of education nationwide in July and ask them to set up their own rules among students, parents and schools for students to use mobile phones appropriately at school.
Elementary schools are not subject to the decision. High school students are already allowed to bring their mobile phones to school.
In 2009, the ministry prohibited elementary and junior high school students from bringing their mobile phones to school, in principle.
Exceptions were made only if parents applied to the school and could justify why their child needed to have a mobile phone, such as for emergencies.
The ministry's approval comes as mobile phone use in junior high schools is surging and many students go home late due to extracurricular activities.
In fiscal 2017, 66.7 percent of junior high school students had their own mobile phones or were using them, according to a Cabinet Office survey.
After a strong earthquake hit Osaka in 2018 while students were commuting to school, the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education allowed elementary school and junior high school students to carry their mobile phones with them on their way to school or home.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education also eased restrictions on junior high school students carrying mobile phones in June last year and authorized principals and local board members to make their own rules regarding the issue.
A total of 40 boards of education of prefectures and major cities have established their own rules on mobile phone usage among junior high school students, 26 of which let students carry their mobile phones after their parents applied for them to do so, according to research conducted by the education ministry last summer.
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