Should schools ban smartphones?

American schools should take note: South Korea, the nation boasting the smartest students on the planet, is concerned about keeping their #1 status. Recent research revealed a troubling decline in cognitive abilities due to smartphone use. The South Korean researchers compared overuse of smartphones to what they see in patients who’ve suffered head injuries or psychiatric illnesses.

South Koreans are a mobile bunch. Slightly more than two out of three people use smartphones and more than 18% of their children ages 10-19 use their phone more than seven hours a day. Doctors speculate that smartphones cause the underuse of the right side of the brain—the part where our concentration happens.

Germany, another academic powerhouse, is also concerned with smartphones impacting students. Manfred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist, believes that irreversible damage can occur in children’s brains that are still developing. He’s petitioning German schools to ban digital devices.

Many US schools want technology in the hands of kids in an effort to keep up with global peers. But as another school year commences, maybe we should take a lesson from the world’s best schools—no digital distractions in the classroom. Here in America, teens have a tight grip on their smartphones and aren’t likely to favor a no-phone zone. But what happens as our cognitive abilities continue to decline?

We like to slap a label on our problems. How about Digital Dysfunction Syndrome? How about instead we take the advice of the world leaders in education, and go back to the basics and leave the smartphones at home?