Restrictions on Communication Freedom in Schools: A Consideration of Four Factors

In recent news, a student from a school in Jinjiang complained about the limited communication freedom imposed by the school. The student claimed that the installation of a full-band shielding device in the dormitories prevented them from having a mobile phone signal and timely contact with the outside world. This article aims to explore the reasons behind the school’s decision and the perspectives of students, parents, and education authorities.

The Inconvenience of Not Being Able to Use Mobile Phones in Dormitories:

According to a high school student interviewed by a reporter, the dormitories are equipped with full-band shielding devices, resulting in no mobile phone signal upon returning to the dormitory after class. This inconvenience forces students to rely on the dormitory’s fixed telephone or communicate through security personnel in case of emergencies. It was also revealed that the installation of full-band shielding devices was implemented in the second semester of the previous year, affecting students’ ability to use their mobile phones during lunchtime and after lights out in the evening.

The School’s Considerations:

The school’s decision to install full-band shielding devices was made after careful consideration of four factors. Firstly, some students were found to be using their mobile phones to cheat during exams by exchanging messages or searching for essays online. The installation of full-band shielding devices aimed to prevent such cheating. Secondly, many students were found to be using their phones to browse the internet while lying in bed after class or during self-study sessions. The school believed that exposure to inappropriate online content negatively impacted students’ growth and learning. Thirdly, some students were found to be engaging in romantic relationships by sending text messages or making phone calls during self-study sessions or before sleeping, which affected their focus and performance the next day. Lastly, during the period after lights out, students engaged in various activities on their phones while lying in bed, which was beyond the control of the dormitory administrators.

The School’s Approach:

To address these concerns, the school decided to activate the full-band shielding devices during lunchtime and after lights out, which are considered “off-camera” periods. This allows students to have uninterrupted rest and study time. However, the school also took into account the need for students to maintain contact with their parents. Therefore, the coverage of the full-band shielding devices was limited to the dormitories, while fixed telephones and IC card telephones were made available for communication. The school conducted surveys and informed parents about the installation of the devices, receiving support from many parents. Additionally, the school held meetings with students to explain the rationale behind the decision, with the majority of students expressing their agreement.

Parental Perspectives:

Most parents understand and support the school’s decision. They believe that excessive use of mobile phones, especially for gaming and internet browsing, hinders rest and concentration on studies. They also acknowledge the presence of inappropriate content on the internet, which can negatively impact their children. Parents argue that the installation of full-band shielding devices is necessary to protect students and emphasize that the dormitory and campus telephones are sufficient for communication with family and friends. However, some parents express concerns about the potential infringement on students’ communication freedom, believing that students should be trusted to use their phones responsibly.

Education Authorities’ Perspective:

The director of the Jinjiang Education Bureau, Mr. Zhuang Yingduan, supports the school’s decision, stating that using mobile phones during rest time is detrimental to students’ well-being. He highlights the negative impact of inappropriate content on students’ mental and physical health. Mr. Zhuang emphasizes that mobile phones are not the only means of communication for students, as the school provides fixed telephones in the dormitories and IC card telephones on campus. He believes that activating the full-band shielding devices during specific periods benefits students’ rest and study time. Mr. Zhuang suggests that the school should communicate more with students and parents to ensure their understanding and support.

Legal Perspective:

According to lawyer Zhang Chuanjiang, the installation of full-band shielding devices by the school is considered a normal management practice and does not violate any regulations. The presence of fixed telephones in each dormitory and IC card telephones on campus ensures that students’ communication rights are not compromised. He emphasizes that no freedom is absolute, including communication freedom. Many schools have implemented similar management measures, such as confiscating or storing mobile phones. Shielding mobile phone signals is a practical approach compared to these measures. Lawyer Zhang suggests that appropriate regulations regarding mobile phone usage can benefit students’ learning and growth.


The installation of full-band shielding devices in school dormitories has sparked discussions among students, parents, and education authorities. While some students and parents express concerns about the potential infringement on communication freedom, the school justifies its decision based on considerations of cheating prevention, protection against inappropriate content, and maintaining a conducive learning environment. Education authorities support the school’s approach, emphasizing the importance of students’ well-being and the availability of alternative communication methods. From a legal perspective, the installation of full-band shielding devices is considered a reasonable management practice. Ultimately, the aim is to strike a balance between students’ communication needs and their academic and personal development.