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All-girls school denies Fitbit ban is over lunch-skipping, calorie-counting

Administrators say it's about the negative impact of social media.


Vanna Vasquez


Posted on Jul 13, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:58 pm CDT

A girls grammar school in England has banned cellphones and other gadgets like Fitbits over concerns that social media is causing “decline in the well-being” of teenagers.

At first, it was reported that Fitbits were being banned at Stroud High School in Gloucestershire because they were promoting unhealthy calorie counting.

“These monitor the number of calories burned and we found that some girls would monitor the number of steps they had taken and the number of calories they had used,” Deputy Headteacher Cindi Pride said about Fitbits, according to Glouster Live. “If they didn’t feel they had taken enough steps in the morning they wouldn’t eat lunch.”

However, Head Teacher Mark McShane has clarified to the BBC that even though some students did discuss calorie-counting concerns with teachers, the ban was not about this. It was about the negative impact social media has had in general.

In the letter sent out to parents, he wrote:

“We certainly believe technology has an important role to play in our school community but we must be confident that it is making our lives better. Too many pieces of research and studies are now demonstrating a link between the decline in well-being of teenagers as a result of mobile phone use and social media. We want our older students to feel in control of their digital lives, and for this reason we want to limit their use in school.”

The school also touched upon the FOMO induced by constantly checking social media, and how that’s been a problem among students. “Seeing friends constantly ‘having fun’ can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life,” assistant head teacher Nadine Moore Whilst wrote. “For many young people Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) may not be a problem, for others, it is causing them distress in the form of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.”

The U.K.’s Office for Standards in Education, Ofsted, rated the 860-student high school “outstanding,” and the administration seems intent on keeping it that way. Its social media concerns began earlier this year when they carried out a survey which found 71 percent of students admitted to “constantly” checking social media.

The ban will be implemented at the start of the new term in September, and it won’t be absolute, either. Older girls will be allowed to use their mobile devices during lunch while younger girls will be banned from their gear all day.

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*First Published: Jul 13, 2017, 2:18 pm CDT