School cellphones: 2 more states consider big bans

Los Angeles USD has approved the nation's largest districtwide cellphone ban, which will take effect in January and also targets social media. 

“School” and “cellphones” are two words that may be spending a lot less time together in the coming months—unless the word “ban” is included in the sentence.

The devices cherished by students and adults alike now face bans in entire states and some of the nation’s largest districts. On Tuesday, Los Angeles USD approved the nation’s largest districtwide cellphone ban, which will take effect in January and also targets social media.

“It is time to formulate a legal strategy that contemplates, but is not restricted to, litigation against social media entities that use algorithms designed to directly appeal and eventually develop, an unhealthy addiction with mental and physical deleterious consequences for our youth,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement. “When coupled with social media, phones are a harmful vehicle that negatively impacts young people.”

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“Kids no longer have the opportunity to just be kids,” added LAUSD school board member Nick Melvoin, the sponsor of the ban. “I’m hoping this resolution will help students not only focus in class but also give them a chance to interact and engage more with each other—and just be kids.”

The entire state of California may soon vanquish cellphones from its K12 system. Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed to Politico this week that he intends to work with state lawmakers in the coming months to “severely restrict” the presence of phones in public schools.

Newsom spoke to the news outlet the day after U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for placing warning labels on social media to alert children and parents to potential health risks that include depression and anxiety. “When children and teens are in school, they should be focused on their studies—not their screens,” Newsom told Politico.

Florida, Indiana and Ohio have enacted statewide restrictions on cellphones in schools. Lawmakers in South Carolina are—with full support from education officials and teachers—embedding cellphone restrictions in the state budget. To continue to receive state funding, districts must adopt a ban that will soon be created by the state’s department of education, The74 reported.

LAUSD was not the only district that took action on Tuesday. Marietta City Schools in Georgia also banned cellphones for middle school students in a unanimous school board vote.

“We really want kids to be focused on learning,” said Superintendent Grant Rivera in a statement reported by FOX 5. “Cellphones, smartwatches, and social media have significant impacts on our students’ learning and mental health. School should be a place to learn and grow; that can’t happen if students are distracted by their phones.”

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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