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MPs have a hard time keeping their hands off their phones: on average, 38 percent of politicians are on a smartphone during a debate, according to new research. There are outliers of up to 90 percent. Chamber chairman Arib is strict but does not want a smartphone ban. Media scientist Sidney Vollmer pitched 21 debates and meetings in the House of Representatives with twelve students under the name of the Faction of Attention. Every ten minutes it was checked which of the MPs present was on their smartphone.
What turned out? On average, 38 percent of MPs are on their phone. With outliers of 90 percent. MPs have gone too far, concludes Vollmer. “If we had counted more often, the percentage of MPs who were busy with his or her telephone would probably have been much higher. Because MPs look more often, but for less than ten minutes.” He understands that MPs are sometimes on their phones in this smartphone era. “But it happens so often. Moreover, politicians are there on behalf of the people, on our behalf. They have an exemplary function. It is important that they keep their attention and the attention goes to the people. They must be in charge of their own attention. ”
He says action is needed. For example, by giving MPs simplified smartphones that contain only a limited number of apps and on which screen time is limited. He has started a petition with co-initiators Myndr and the Bildung Academy. With the petition, the initiators want two things: stricter rules of conduct for MPs during meetings, and introducing the use of the simplified smartphone. Chamber chairman Khadija Arib has already expressed her annoyance about smartphone use several times. “I get a lot of letters from citizens about that.” Arib continues: “I think it is not so much a question of how often MPs and ministers check their telephones, but whether they follow the debate, listen to each other, and have an eye for each other,” she told RTL Nieuws. “As a Chamber, we have an exemplary role in this.”
To watch football
The President of the House has already taken telephones from MPs who were busy with their telephones. Ministers Grapperhaus and Van Nieuwenhuizen went through the dust last September because they were watching football during an important debate. “At the same time, mobile phones are part of this era,” Arib says. “All information comes in via telephones. Documents, motions, you name it. Especially during long debates, it is an important means of keeping abreast of what is happening outside the plenary room.” According to her, MPs are becoming more aware of the use of their telephones. “In debates that get a lot of attention, I sometimes draw their attention to it.”