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Will you harm your child’s academic progress if you buy them a new iPhone 7?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 September 2016

The new iPhone 7

The new iPhone 7

Apparently, a new iPhone was launched earlier this month, writes Thrifty Living columnist Sheena Grant.

News of this important event, which allows people to replace one mobile with another that is almost exactly the same but comes with added hype, passed me by until this week, when I received a random marketing email from a company plugging its iPhone 7 ‘case collection’.

On this occasion the company targeted the wrong journalist. When it comes to mobile phones and other technology I’m the original anti-consumer. The more must-have puffery that is attached a product, the more I rail against it. And don’t even get me started on clothing companies that emblazon brand names across merchandise, as if that somehow makes them more attractive. It doesn’t. At least not as far as I’m concerned.

I’m long past caring about the idea of trying to keep up with what others have got, advertising my current or aspirational ‘status’ with the car I drive, the clothes I wear or the phone I carry.

But obviously, I realise not everyone is like me. Some people, particularly the young, are much more susceptible to the allure of the ‘brand’ and having the ‘latest’ of whatever is the ‘latest’ on any given day of the week.

That’s one of the reasons why, despite writing recently of my reservations about the expense of modern school uniform, I fully support its often-stated main purpose as a social leveller, meaning students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to clothes.

But what about phones? For those schools that allow them on the premises, let alone in the classroom - and I know not all do - uniform policy doesn’t seem to extend to them. Perhaps it should.

As a new high school parent I’ve been taken aback by the fog of competition and downright nastiness that seems to swirl around the entire day when it comes to technology. Those children without phones at all are at the bottom of the pile. Next comes those with basic models that can call and send texts. And so it goes on, all the way, I suppose, up to the iPhone 7.

It seems to me peer pressure around clothing that school uniform seeks to eradicate has been replaced by a form of technological peer pressure that’s every bit as insidious.

Last year, a study by the London School of Economics claimed schools where mobile phones were banned saw test scores rise by an average of 6%. Perhaps a study should look at the gains such a move could make when it comes to children’s emotional well-being. I can’t help thinking it would be worth more than 6%.

Email Sheena with your Thrifty Living tips, or tweet using #ThriftyLiving.

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