Increased Pressure on Schools to Ban Cell Phones in Classrooms

A high school teacher in California has complained that students are watching Netflix on their phones during class. Similarly, a chemistry teacher in Maryland has reported that students are using gambling apps to place bets during the school day.

Across the country, educators are noticing that students are engaging in various distractions on their smartphones during class, such as sending Snapchat messages, listening to music, and shopping online. This widespread use of phones in classrooms is well-documented, yet parents often underestimate the extent to which their children are using them at school. As a result, many educators and experts are now advocating for a ban on phones during classes.

James Granger, a science teacher at a high school in the Los Angeles area, requires his students to place their phones in a “cellphone cubby” with numbered slots to prevent them from using their devices during class. Many schools already have rules in place regarding student phone use, but these rules are not consistently enforced. As a response to the growing issue, more state and federal leaders are endorsing school cellphone bans and proposing new measures to limit access to phones.

In Utah, Governor Spencer Cox recently urged all school districts to remove cellphones from classrooms, citing studies that show improved learning outcomes and decreased distractions when phones are not present. Other states like Florida, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Kansas have also introduced legislation aimed at creating “phone-free schools.” Additionally, U.S. senators Tom Cotton and Tim Kaine have proposed a federal study on the effects of cellphone use in schools on students’ mental health and academic performance.

Despite the fact that 77% of U.S. schools have policies prohibiting cellphone use for non-academic purposes, these bans are often not followed or enforced. Teachers like Patrick Truman from Maryland express frustration at the lack of control over student phone use in their classrooms. Some students and parents push back against cellphone bans, arguing that they take away students’ autonomy and ability to communicate with family and friends. However, advocates for phone-free schools emphasize the benefits of reducing distractions and improving student focus.

At Delta High School in Utah, students are required to leave their phones in storage units before entering classrooms, leading to increased focus and engagement during class time. The school has seen positive outcomes in terms of student learning and test scores since implementing the policy. Looking ahead, educators are now considering how to address other forms of technology distractions, such as earbuds and smartwatches.

Overall, the movement towards phone-free schools is gaining momentum as more educators and policymakers recognize the impact of excessive phone use on students’ academic performance and well-being.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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