Texting under the table should be a thing of the past after French children returned to class Monday following a nationwide ban on mobile phones in schools.

The new rule, a campaign pledge of President Emmanuel Macron, was brought in under a law passed in July which for primary and junior schools also banishes tablets and smart watches

High schools, which teach students aged 15 to 18, can introduce partial or total bans on electronic devices as they reopen after the summer break, though this will not be obligatory.

Proponents say the law, which has prompted vigorous debate, will reduce distraction in the classroom, combat bullying, and encourage children to be more physically active during recess.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Marie-Caroline Madeleine, 41, told AFP after dropping her daughter off for the first day of middle school in Paris.

Nearly 90 percent of French 12- to 17-year-olds have a mobile phone, and supporters hope the ban will limit the spread of violent and pornographic content among children.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has hailed the legislation as “a law for the 21st century” that would improve discipline among France’s 12 million pupils.

(AFP)