More s⁠t⁠a⁠t⁠es pursu⁠i⁠ng laws ⁠t⁠o curb phone use ⁠i⁠n schools

May 26, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Person Holding Silver Iphone 7

Of the many issues facing students in the digital age, few are more pressing for education leaders than the proliferation of cell phones in schools and their impact on learning. Most schools now have policies against using phones for non-academic purposes, as do a growing number of districts.  

These policies vary, of course, and enforcement remains an obstacle. Last year, I wrote about how more districts are investing in magnetic-lock pouches to hold students’ phones during the school day. It was estimated that 2,000 schools in the country were using the pouches of a leading company,  

But the issue is transcending the local level, making its way through state legislatures and even the halls of Congress. Last year, Florida became the first state to pass legislation curbing phone use in schools. “A law that took effect in July requires all Florida public schools to ban student cellphone use during class time and block access to social media on district Wi-Fi,” writes the Associated Press.  

The story also notes a bipartisan bill—filed last year by U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and Tim Kaine—to mandate a federal study on how cellphone use during school hours is impacting students’ mental health and academic achievement.  

Now joining the initiative are Ohio lawmakers. A new measure, which passed unanimously in the state House and Senate, will require all Ohio public school districts to adopt a policy on cellphones. The goal is to keep them out of students’ hands as much as possible while at school.  

The 74 covered the change (then pending, since passed) in a May story, writing:  

“The legislation would also require the Department of Education and Workforce to adopt a model policy on student phone use that public schools could utilize. These policies come at a request of Gov. Mike DeWine, who said in his State of the State Address that phones are ‘detrimental to our kids’ mental health and they need to be removed from the classroom.’” 

While neither of the Carolinas has such a law on the books, a pending South Carolina budget rule will require districts to adopt a policy banning students from using personal electronic devices, including cellphones, during the school day. The rule was added at the request of the state Department of Education, led by S.C. Superintendent Ellen Weaver. The new budget, once passed, takes effect July 1.