All The Places Smartphones Should Be Banned Besides Schools

“They say there’s no substitute for reality,” Tom Ballard says in one his standup routines. “But then I look up from my phone to see a dog defecating in the park, and I beg to differ.”

He has a point. We have the world at our fingertips in one clever gadget. To complain about it would seem ungrateful.

Well then, consider me an ingrate.

It’s not just the fact that smartphones are transforming everyone else into zombies that irks me. It’s the fact that my phone brings out the worst in me. And I feel powerless to change it.

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Unless, of course, the damn thing is literally wrestled away from me, which is exactly what a top Sydney school has done to its students -- with telling results.

An increasing number of schools are banning smartphones. (Image: Getty)

Newington College, in Sydney’s inner west, has banned phones, saying boys must keep them in their lockers, after a failed policy of ‘responsible usage,’ Fairfax reports.

Earlier in the year, NSW' Deniliquin High School immediately saw a difference upon implementing its own ban, tweeting: “It was fabulously noisy in the yard today as students were busy talking to each other at recess and lunch instead of playing on their phones!”

What a wonderful phrase: fabulously noisy. This is what any schoolyard should be; where social connections are forged, jokes told, knowledge shared. A quiet or silent schoolyard is eerie, Dickensian and wrong.

But other after-effects followed. Concentration improved; stress lowered; “warped views on reality” contextualised.

Tara Anglican School for Girls noticed other positives when it banned phones. Physical activities increased; participation in lunchtimes clubs boomed and, the Principal added: "The best part is the delight in the increase in morning tea and lunchtime conversation. Everyone is engaged with each other and not a screen now.”

This all comes from the school of no-shit-Sherlock, surely? Apparently not.

The NSW government has commissioned a review into mobile phone usage in schools and one teachers union extols their virtues as PC alternatives in cash-strapped schools.

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Bans on phones remain divisive. Although I'm not a fan of bans or over-regulation, this is the exception to that rule. We shouldn’t just stop at schools. Imagine all those benefits the students are enjoying transferred to us zombified adults in the real world.

Here are other places that should ban the mob.


For one gig date per city, customers should have the option of a phone-free concert. This means that those who prefer to live in the moment can do so without a camera-phone shoved in front of them, blocking their view.

Those who bizarrely record barely usable footage with appalling sound and vision quality that’d barely elicit a single sympathy ‘like’ on Instagram -- can do so on all other concert dates.

Jack White did this at a recent concert as an “art project”, explaining:

“I wanted to surprise people. I thought it would be great if people showed up and they found out right when they got there that there were these pouches for the phones. I thought it would excite them and possibly make some of them upset...

I want people to live in the moment, and it’s funny that the easiest way to rebel is to tell people to turn off their phone. If your phone is that important to you that you can’t live without it for two hours then I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to see a therapist.”

Just put it away. (Image: Getty)

Other people have paid good money to watch this film too. Opening your phone and distracting paying customers behind you -- whether to check the time or your messages -- is infuriating and inconsiderate. Even if your phone is on silent, that illumination is distracting. Just turn it off. Or else, watch the film in your own house.

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Don't be that guy. (Image: Getty)

This is even worse than in the cinema because the team who slogged their guts out to bring you this performance is literally right in front of you. And behind you.

The illumination of your phone will likely disrupt the flow of the actors on stage, insult the hard work of the lighting director behind you and offend and anger the director possibly sat next to you in the audience scribbling notes discreetly.

Not to mention all the above discourteousness afforded to your fellow audience members. Have some respect. Turn it off. Not on silent. Off.

At the counter while you pay

The person you’re paying works in retail, so has to put up with people all day every day who are THE WORST. Don’t be one of them. Have some respect and stop speaking on your phone when you pay them, so you can utter the words: “thank you.”

It’s a Gen X and older concept called manners. Look it up.

Would you like to be seated in phoning, or non? (Image: Getty)

We used to have non-smoking sections; these should now be transformed into non-mobile sections where people who dine together actually speak to one another. I include myself in this. Please. Just take my phone off me! I’m guilty too!

Dinner parties
Best dinner party policy. (Image: Getty)

Collect them in at the door, so we can speak to each other. Revolutionary. Like keys at a 70s party: in the bowl!

Put the phone away on holiday. (Image: Getty)

Digital detox holidays and offline escape retreats are the hottest ticket on the travel market right now, and will charge a small fortune for you to hand in your phone on day one.

Of course, there’s a much cheaper option too. Just leave it at home. Go explore.

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Just avoid dogs defecating in parks.