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Los Angeles School Board Bans Smartphone Use During School Hours

The Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District voted 5 to 2 on June 18 to ban student smartphone use during school hours starting in January, according to the Los Angeles Times. The measure was introduced by board member Nick Melvoin who said, “Our students are glued to their cellphones, not unlike adults. They’re surreptitiously scrolling in school, in class time, or have their head in their hands, walking down the hallways. They’re not talking to each other or playing at lunch or recess because they have their AirPods in.”

One of the several co-sponsors of the resolution was Board President Jackie Goldberg. who spoke of a recent visit to a local high school during a lunch break. She sat at a cafeteria table with students expecting to be able to speak to them, but each one pulled out a cellphone. Goldberg, however, said that her biggest surprise was that the students were all sending messages to others at the same table, rather than speaking to them. Goldberg said “This is an addiction that is serious.” There are many other school districts considering similar action. California Assembly Bill 3216 was introduced in February that would require all school districts to develop policies to limit or prohibit student use of smartphones while “under the supervision of a school employee.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already announced his support for the bill.

The Los Angeles resolution referred to studies that show limits to smartphone use improve academic performance and help with a long list of mental and physical health issues. The resolution further suggested possible district legal action against social media platforms which deliberately seek to addict children. According to the National Institutes of Health especially with children and youth, smartphone use is linked to mental distress, self-injurious behavior, suicidal thoughts, negative social behavior, bullying, sleep deprivation, cognitive control, and emotional development.