The Great Disconnect: LAUSD Bans Cell Phones in School

The nation's second-largest school district adopted a ban on cell phones and social media use Tuesday. The resolution was sponsored by Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Nick Melvoin and co-sponsored by Board President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. It passed 5-2.

The policy won't take effect until January 2025. That gives the district time to develop the specifics, including how the rules might differ by age group and whether lockers or pouches will be provided to hold the devices throughout the school day. 

Cell phone usage has become increasingly common among older children and teens. By age 11, 53% of American children will have a cell phone. That percentage hits more than 95% for teens ages 13 to 17.

Critics of school cell phone use say the devices not only distract from school work, but also interfere with important peer-to-peer relationships, contribute to cyber bullying, and can increase mental health risk. The resolution cites evidence suggesting that limits on cell phone and social media use during school hours increase academic performance and mental wellbeing.

Parents arguably understand the downsides of technology as much as anyone. And yet, most of them see cell phones as an important tool for safety and connectivity. In a survey conducted by the National Parents Union, 56% percent of respondents said "students should sometimes be allowed to use their cell phones" in school. Only 32% support a ban on school cell phone use. 

Schools are not completely sold on a ban either. To be effective, some staff say there would need to be clear cut penalties for violations. A new rule without teeth could make their jobs even harder.

As LAUSD prepares to implement the new rules, a similar policy has been proposed statewide. Assembly Bill 3216 (Hoover) was introduced in February, and would require school districts to adopt policies limiting or prohibiting student cell phone use by July 1, 2026.


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Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - 13:41

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