Utah governor wants schools to ban cell phones in classrooms

Utah governor wants schools to ban cell phones in classrooms

Illustration of a child standing and pressing his hands against a giant smartphone screen.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Governor Spencer Cox is urging schools to try banning cell phones in classrooms to improve children’s focus and mental health.

Driving news: Cox advocated for limits on children’s exposure to social media during a press conference on Monday.

  • Banning cellphones in schools could improve the learning environment, he said.
  • Lawmakers are also considering requiring social media companies to get parental permission before allowing children to open their accounts, Cox said.

Why it matters: Some research — such as 2018 study cited by Cox – link social media exposure to depression and anxiety.

Reality check: The governor’s office does not have enough authority to ban phone calls or require parental consent for social media.

  • In the absence of legislation, schools set their own rules for the use of mobile phones.
  • Courts have stopped some state regulations on social media companies based on the First Amendment – although most of the debate has focused on how companies “censor” certain content, rather than restricting access to children.

details: Cox wants to see schools ban kids from having cell phones in classrooms, not just using them.

  • “There’s something about having that on your person, that connection where it’s always even subconsciously, it’s just ticking and you feel the need to look at it and see what’s going on because maybe you’re missing something,” Cox said.

Other side: Parents have fought against the ban on mobile phonessaying that children must be able to call for help in the event of a shooting or other emergency safety issue.

Big picture: Banning mobile phones in schools varies nationally and internationally – but most have failed.

  • In 2016, the National Education Association found that more than 70% of schools that banned cell phones continued to reverse yours decisions.
  • But both France and China have banned these devices nationally for younger children, and more districts was consider doing so recently.

It is important to note: Utah Public School Board necessary schools to update their mobile phone policies in 2019.


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