The education ministry will consider reviewing a ban on elementary and junior high school students carrying smartphones and other mobile phones at school, education minister Masahiko Shibayama said Tuesday.

“We’ll consider reviewing the notice (that included the smartphone ban) in the light of changes in the social environment surrounding schools and the situations of students and pupils,” Shibayama told a news conference.

In the January 2009 notice, the ministry said that mobile phones are not directly required for educational activities and so taking them to elementary and junior high schools should be prohibited in principle.

For high schools, the notice said that the use of mobile phones should be limited while a ban on carrying them should be considered as an option.

A decade after the notice, the ministry now considers that the ban “does not fit with the times,” taking into account the spread of mobile phone and smartphone use and the need for communication tools in the event of disasters.

The ministry plans to proceed with the review by gathering input from schools and parents.

Regarding smartphone use at school, the education department of the Osaka Prefectural Government announced Monday its decision to allow elementary and junior high school students in the prefecture to bring smartphones to school.

The department unveiled draft guidelines that permit students to bring smartphones to school only when their parents give them permission to do so.

A strong earthquake hit the northern part of Osaka Prefecture in June last year, causing parents to become anxious about their children commuting to school in the morning. After the quake, the department received requests for students to be allowed to carry smartphones at school.

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