It’s Au Revoir to Using Smartphones in Public at This French Village

Seine-Port bans smartphones

If you, like many today, can’t get through a walk outside without using your phone, you might not want to include Seine-Port on your European travel itinerary. The town, an hour’s drive south of Paris, has banned using your smartphone in public, according to Euro Weekly News.

The town’s population is slightly less than 2,000, but only 277 locals reportedly showed up to vote on a mini referendum to restrict smartphone use in public places. The villagers present, roughly a fifth of those on the electoral roll, decided in favour of the restriction.

“It’s time to return to face-to-face communication and reduce the amount of time that people, and particularly Seine-Port’s children, spend on their phones, villagers decided,” reports Euro Weekly.

The town’s mayor Vincent Paul-Petit is currently devising the new guidelines, which, it’s worth noting are simply recommendations. They’ll include mentions that phones are not used while waiting at the school gates, inside shops, walking down the street and at large gatherings. As there are no nationwide laws regulating smartphones, police won’t be able to stop or fine locals for looking at their screens in the street.

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Image: Getty Images

“The Seine-Porter charter is simply guidance for limiting their use and encouragement to scroll less,” writes the publication.

Locals also supported a charter calling for children not to indulge in any screen time in the morning, before bed or at mealtimes. It also called for kids not to have phones at all in bedrooms. For parents who sign an agreement not to give their kids a smartphone until they’re 15, the town hall will provide them with devices they’re calling “dumbphones” for their kids to use only for calls.

“It’s not about banning all phones,” Paul-Petit told the media. “It’s about proposing that people abstain from getting out their smartphone to scroll through social media, play a game or watch a video in public places, which we want to preserve for social life.”

smartphone ban europe
Image: Getty Images

Last year, Finland’s island Ulko-Tammio ran a campaign that encouraged visitors to put their phones away and experience it with all their senses.

“We encourage visitors to voluntarily put their phones away and focus their senses on nature rather than their phones,” Joel Heino, the manager of outdoor recreation and visitor management at Parks & Wildlife Finland, said at the time. “This is a great initiative that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations, too.”

Smartphones are also banned from many schools around the world, including in the Netherlands, France and Italy. All states and territories in Australia also have bans on phones being used in high schools.

In July 2023, a UNESCO report called for schools around the world the ban smartphones in the classroom. The UN agency said even being close to a smartphone has been linked with students being distracted in the classroom, which in turn, causes poorer student performances, according to Euronews.

“The digital revolution holds immeasurable potential, but, just as warnings have been voiced for how it should be regulated in society, similar attention must be paid to the way it is used in education,” Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, said in a press statement.

No doubt the residents of Seine-Port will be fascinating case studies to better understand the mental health and attention effects of using smartphones while out in society. Here’s to hoping they’re nowhere near as bad as we think.

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