New mobile phone ban: – It's like losing a part of yourself

New mobile phone ban: – It's like losing a part of yourself

Horton (VG) 10th graders speak SecretSecretJuvenile slang for seriousness. About mobile abstinence.

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-It's a kind of body part. I've just gotten used to using my cell phone so much that I feel like I carry it with me. It has become a part of me. “It's like losing a part of yourself when it's not there,” says Mattia Aurora Ulsrud (15).

Warm Reunion: Despite the harsh winds and freezing winds: Mathia forgets to wear her jacket properly while enjoying a warm reunion with her cell phone.

VG will be able to follow her and the 10th grade students at Hultan High School on the first day of school in 2024. It is also the first day of a complete ban on cell phones.

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Students, even during break, are unable to access their cherished possessions. Many of them wandered into the great hall wondering what they should come up with.

A broken red sofa left alone. Some dance in a spontaneous play circle. Others talk together. Without looking at the mobile screen every two minutes.

Group break: An empty red sofa is constantly left in the hall at Holtan High School in Horten.

Mathia thinks it has become too strict.

– I think it's a bit strange, yeah. I want my mobile phone.
We tried to come up with good arguments for getting a mobile phone – during free time, says the 10th grader.

She fought for mobile phone access at Horten's youth council – and in conversations with school principal John Eriksen (54).

Empty tabletop: Year 10 Mathia met with principal John for a conversation about mobile phone bans across a completely mobile-free table in the hall of Hultan High School.

But it's not a black and white issue either.

– I understand they did that too.

– oh well?

– Of course I do. Because there were a lot of people who used their cell phones in class and so on. Mathia explains that he was not social during breaks at all.

She talks about the covert use of mobile phones which is not known in Norwegian classrooms.

Manager Jon Eriksen can confirm this. He sat with Mattia at a table in the hall at Storefri. The table is completely empty. There is no cell phone nearby.

The headteacher says he understands pupils' reaction to the fact that break has also become mobile phone-free.

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But he defends her.

Something Must Be Found: Mattia talks with classmates, teachers and VG in Storefri.  Mobile phone cannot be seen.
Satisfied: School principal John Eriksen (54) has long lobbied for the introduction of completely cellphone-free secondary schools throughout the municipality of Horten.  He would love for Education Minister Carrie Nessa Nordton to soon make a national recommendation on the matter.

– I think he's very cute. We need to make more arrangements for different activities. But many students need social training. Eriksen describes that many people get into a bubble with their cell phones, and then they can go an entire day without talking to anyone.

– It's good to get them out of that bubble, don't you think?

– Yes, I think it's very good. Looking into each other's eyes, talking to each other, practicing it. All this is painful and rather difficult for many.

Some boys in the hall are teasing the principal a little about why they need to be without cell phones.

“So you can learn better and not get upset so much,” said Headmaster John.

Boys don't give up:

– It's Storefri, man. Then we won't learn anything. It's free time, yes.

Board of Directors: It's not just about taking the phone out of the bag when mom has to send an important message.  Alexandra (15) will have her mobile phone in a few days – and can communicate outside the classroom.

In the middle of the lesson, the communication teacher in 10B was told that pupil Alexandra Lund-Petersen (15) should call home.

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And it's not just that the cell phone box is placed in the teachers' wing downstairs – behind the reception desk and next to the headmaster's office.

Alexandra finally has access to her own phone and can call home.

“I had to call my mother to give her a letter after that,” Alexandra tells VG outside the classroom.

– What do you think about tightening the mobile phone ban?

– I think it's very good that we don't have cell phones in class, because it was very easy to have cell phones in class. But we should still be allowed to use it during breaks. It is difficult to communicate without a mobile phone.

Value plastic case:

Mathia does her best to stay focused on the questionnaire in the dark as they watch “Forrest Gump” for the final hour.

It's nearly two in the afternoon, and someone is quietly talking about abstinence. Approaching delivery of mobile phones from the red plastic box. The student can't bear to wait his turn, but grabs his phone before he has to.

At the reception desk on the first floor, secretary Birgitte Johnsen (57) used part of her working day to talk to parents who, among other things, did not understand the strict ban on mobile phones.

Office-Birgitte: Secretary and school receptionist Birgitte Johnsen (57 years old) is happy to have a phone call or seven with parents wondering how things are going.

She loves talking to people, and doesn't think cell phone calls are an extra burden on her job.

Mathea in Class 10 B finally got her mobile phone back.

She smiles to herself in the ten degrees Celsius temperature and snow outside the school. The mobile phone screen attracts her attention.

– How much time do you spend in front of your mobile screen?

– I spend an average of eight to nine hours a day on my mobile phone.

Together again: After the first day of the total cell phone ban at Hultan High School.  Mathia Aurora Ulsrud (15) was reunited with her most prized possession – her mobile phone worth around NOK 8,000.

– Isn't this small?

– This is a lot, then. Mathia answers: I have 16 hours a day now during Christmas break.

She laughs a little to herself.

– What was it like to live an entire school day without a cell phone?

– There was a little loss. I always have it in my pocket or something.
But it's also nice to not have to think about it. Stop thinking I have to check it all the time.

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Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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