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LA school district joins growing number of schools considering cellphone bans

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Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) leaders whose students are being distracted by their phones and social media during class time are looking to join a growing number of school districts that are banning cellphones and social media during instruction time. Leaders will vote on the resolution on Tuesday, June 17. Those who support the measure hope it will improve education and prevent online bullying.

The LAUSD resolution cited a study that shows half of teens feel “addicted” to their phones. Additional research found that 97% of 11- to 17-year-olds use their phones during school hours. Meanwhile, a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 16% of high schoolers reported someone bullied them through text or social media.

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If passed, the proposal only directs staff to come up with policies banning the use of social media and cellphones. Parents, students, staff, labor partners and experts would then give input on new policy. The school board would then have 120 days to approve the measure. If the board passes specific policies, they would take effect in January 2025.

Right now, ideas for ban enforcement range from adding cellphone lockers to blocking social media access on devices. Leaders are still debating penalties for students found using their phones.

Parents against the ban said that their kids need phone access to contact them during the day. Parents also said they already restrict their children from using their phones.

Some school leaders also opposed to the resolution argue that guidelines are already in place to prevent cellphone use in the classroom, they just need to be enforced.

One principal, who chose to remain anonymous, said that a ban is “overkill,” and that cellphone enforcement should be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis.” He added that it would also add an unnecessary workload to staff.

Other parents showed their support for the ban, but maintain that it needs to have real consequences, like actually taking away the phone.

Los Angeles education leaders said that social media and cellphones not only hurt academics but also increase anxiety, online abuse and physical violence. Students reportedly used phones to set up fights, film them and post the videos online. Advocates said that with limited access to phones during the day, this student violence could be reduced.

The U.S. surgeon general even issued an advisory in 2023 on the effects of social media use on the mental health of kids. In June, he asked Congress to require social media platforms to display tobacco-style warning labels.

LA’s proposed move comes as a handful of states look to pass legislation that would ban the use of social media or cellphones in the classroom. Florida already blocked social media access and cell phone use during instruction while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, D, launched a plan to ban smartphones in schools.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SMARTPHONES ARE BECOMING A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR AMERICAN STUDENTS — FROM CAUSING MAJOR DISTRACTIONS AND DISRUPTIONS IN SCHOOL TO CONTRIBUTING TO WHAT THE U.S. SURGEON GENERAL CALLS A MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY AMONG YOUTH.

NOW ONE OF THE BIGGEST SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN THE COUNTRY IS CONSIDERING ACTION TO BAN THESE DEVICES AND PLATFORMS — A MOVE THAT COULD REVERBERATE ACROSS THE U.S. 

LOS ANGELES EDUCATION LEADERS ARE FED UP WITH KIDS “ADDICTED” TO THEIR PHONES. SAYING IT HAS NOT ONLY HURT ACADEMICS BUT ALSO LED TO INCREASED STUDENT ANXIETY, ONLINE ABUSE, AND PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. 

STUDIES SHOW HALF OF TEENS FEEL “ADDICTED” TO THEIR PHONES AND 97 PERCENT OF 11-TO-17 YEAR OLDS USE THEIR PHONES DURING SCHOOL. AND THE C-D-C SAYS 16 PERCENT OF HIGH SCHOOLERS REPORT BEING BULLIED VIA TEXT OR SOCIAL MEDIA.

SO, THE L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT IS LOOKING TO JOIN A GROWING NUMBER OF DISTRICTS BANNING CELL PHONES AND SOCIAL MEDIA, WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD SET TO CONSIDER TUESDAY A PROPOSAL TO BAN PHONE PHONES IN L.A. SCHOOLS. . 

THE RESOLUTION WOULD DIRECT DISTRICT STAFF TO REVIEW AND REVISE EXISTING POLICIES AND PRESENT A PLAN THE BOARD OVER THE NEXT 120 DAYS THAT COULD BE IMPLEMENTED BY JANUARY 2025.

RIGHT NOW, IDEAS RANGE FROM CELL PHONE LOCKERS TO BLOCKING SOCIAL MEDIA ACCESS ON DEVICES WHILE PENALTIES ARE BEING DEBATED.

PARENTS OPPOSED TO THE BAN SAY THEIR KIDS NEED THEIR PHONES TO CONTACT THEM.

AND SOME SCHOOL LEADERS ARGUE THE DISTRICT ALREADY HAS GUIDELINES — BUT THEY NEED TO BE ENFORCED.

ONE PRINCIPAL CALLED A BAN “OVERKILL” AND SAID IT SHOULD BE DEALT WITH ON A “CASE-BY-CASE BASIS.” ADDING IT WOULD ADD AN UNNECESSARY WORKLOAD.

OTHER PARENTS AND STAFF SUPPORT THE BAN– BUT SAY IT NEEDS TO HAVE TEETH– LIKE ACTUALLY TAKING AWAY THE PHONE.

L-A’S MOVE COMES AS A HANDFUL OF CITIES AND STATES LOOK TO BAN SOCIAL MEDIA OR CELL PHONE USE IN THE CLASSROOM. 

FLORIDA HAS ALREADY BLOCKED SOCIAL MEDIA ACCESS AND CELL PHONE USE DURING INSTRUCTION. NEW YORK GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL HAS ALSO LAUNCHED A PLAN TO BAN SMARTPHONES IN SCHOOLS.

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