LAUSD plans to ban students from using cell phones during the school day – Deseret News

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday approved a proposed cellphone and social media ban for students, affecting over 420,000 students. The ban passed on a 5-2 vote and would change the current policy that already prohibits cellphone use during class time and social media use for non-educational purposes, CNN reported.

Los Angeles Unified School District board member Nick Melvoin led the effort to pass and implement the proposal. Melvoin is concerned about the impact of cell phones and social media on students.

The proposal follows other efforts to restrict cellphone use in the state, stemming from a 2019 law that allows school districts to set limits on students' cellphone use in school, according to CNN.

“Our students are as fixated on their phones as adults. They surreptitiously scroll at school, during class, or with their heads in their hands as they walk through the hallways,” Melvoin said, according to the LA Times.

“They don’t talk to each other or play during lunch or recess because they have their AirPods with them.”

The vote comes a day after U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy published an essay on how social media is affecting children's mental health. As Deseret News previously reported, the essay called for warning labels on mental health-related topics on social media.

Supporters of the proposal cite declining mental health, the decline in in-person contact and Murthy's 2023 recommendation, which addresses a possible link between social media and the mental health crisis among teens.

The agenda for Tuesday's meeting states: “Research suggests that excessive mobile phone use affects the mental health and well-being of young people and is associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, feelings of aggression and suicidal thoughts.”

Furthermore, they argue: “While headphones and earphones are tools to promote focus and concentration in the classroom, students use them throughout the day along with their mobile phones and can become dependent on them, inhibiting students' interaction with their peers and limiting participation in class.”

They cite a 2016 study by Common Sense Media that found that half of all teenagers reported being addicted to their cell phones, and another 2023 study that found that 97% of 11- to 17-year-olds reported using their cell phones during school hours.

As argued in the session, academic performance and mental health improve when cell phones and social media are limited. The improvements in academic performance, the research found, “were equivalent to one additional hour of instruction per week.”

The district must now seek input from teachers, students, parents, experts and working partners to formulate an updated policy that will be presented to the public within 120 days and implemented by January 2025, as directed by the board.

The policy must meet several requirements, including differentiation by grade level and device, age appropriateness, and it must take into account the mobile phone's storage methods.

Supporters of the ban cite some of the benefits mentioned at Tuesday's meeting, such as better academic performance and fewer negative mental health effects, but many parents are concerned that it would deprive their children of important opportunities to communicate with them.

One mother, AnneMarie Fulton, explained her reluctance in a post in the Facebook group “Parents Supporting Teachers.”

“I don't want her to be unable to call me when she needs to,” she wrote, according to the LA Times. “I'm strict about phone use anyway, but depriving a child of that ability to contact her doesn't seem quite right.”

The principal of an elementary school shared Fulton's concerns, saying that while the devices would “cause a lot of unnecessary drama on school grounds,” she had to give one to “her high school student” for walking home from school.