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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul targets cellphones in schools

May 31

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Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., is leading a crusade across the state to address the issue of youth mental health. Her latest focus is the issue of cellphones in schools.

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“This is the urgency that I am bringing to this cause,” Hochul said during a recent news conference. “Why I am investing a lot of my time, energy and political capital to say we can’t solve everything right now, but there’s one area where I know we can make a real difference. and this is the effects of the addictive, and the ‘addictive’ word is the one I’m focusing on. Addictive algorithms that are intended to bombard our young people when they scroll social media, and to draw them in deeper and make it harder for them to put down their device or to interact at a personal level with others.”

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Hochul and her team spent the last year engaging with New York children and teenagers. Now, her office is ready to launch a set of bills aimed at online child safety. One of these bills, which is set to be announced later this year, proposes banning smartphones in public schools.

“Why are young people on their devices all day long during school hours?” Hochul asked while appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier this week. “How are they learning? How are they multitasking the way that they’re checking out what everybody’s going to be doing this weekend and scrolling and seeing different feeds and listening to their geometry class?”

The governor later clarified her stance after pushback form parents.

“I’m okay if you have a flip phone your child wants to talk to you, or you need to have a conversation,” Hochul said. “They say, ‘Can you pick me up at 3 o’clock?’ Text them a message, but you don’t have to be in the world of social media throughout the day.”

Hochul vowed to continue conversations with parents and children before introducing the bill during next year’s legislative session, which begins in January 2025.

Notably, New York is not the only state addressing cellphone behavior during school hours.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently signed a bill into law that requires public school districts to adopt or update policies related to student cellphone use. The bill contains rules aimed to limit phone usage as much as possible. It also includes potential bans on carrying phones on school grounds.

Ohio school districts have until July 2025 to implement the new policies.

A study by Common Sense Media reveals that 97% of students use their phones during school hours.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

NEW YORK GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL IS ON A CRUSADE ACROSS HER STATE TO TACKLE A YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. NOW SHE’S TARGETING CELL PHONES IN SCHOOLS.

[GOV. KATHY HOCHUL]

“THIS IS THE URGENCY THAT I AM BRINGING TO THIS CAUSE WHY I AM INVESTING A LOT OF MY TIME, ENERGY AND POLITICAL CAPITAL TO SAY WE CAN’T SOLVE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW BUT THERE’S ONE AREA WHERE I KNOW WE CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE. AND THIS IS THE EFFECTS OF THE ADDICTIVE, AND THE ‘ADDICTIVE’ WORD IS THE ONE I’M FOCUSING ON, ADDICTIVE ALGORITHMS THAT ARE INTENDED TO BOMBARD OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WHEN THEY SCROLL SOCIAL MEDIA AND TO DRAW THEM IN DEEPER AND MAKE IT HARDER FOR THEM TO PUT DOWN THEIR DEVICE OR TO INTERACT AT A PERSONAL LEVEL WITH OTHERS.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

HOCHUL SAYS SHE AND HER TEAM HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH NEW YORK KIDS AND TEENS FOR THE LAST YEAR – AND NOW SHE’S READY TO LAUNCH A SET OF BILLS AIMED AT ONLINE CHILD SAFETY.

ONE BILL HOCHUL IS SET TO ANNOUNCE LATER THIS YEAR – IS BANNING SMARTPHONES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

THE GOVERNOR SAYS – KIDS SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON LEARNING WHILE IN CLASS INSTEAD OF SCOURING THE INTERNET OR TEXTING WITH FRIENDS ALL DAY. SHE APPEARED ON MSNBC’S ‘MORNING JOE’ EARLIER THIS WEEK.

[GOV. KATHY HOCHUL]

“WHY ARE YOUNG PEOPLE ON THEIR DEVICES ALL DAY LONG DURING SCHOOL HOURS? HOW ARE THEY LEARNING? HOW ARE THEY MULTITASKING THE WAY THAT THEY’RE CHECKING OUT WHAT EVERYBODY’S GOING TO BE DOING THIS WEEKEND AND SCROLLING AND SEEING DIFFERENT FEEDS AND LISTENING TO THEIR GEOMETRY CLASS?”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

HOCHUL SAYS SHE UNDERSTANDS PARENTS WANTING TO HAVE A LIFELINE TO THEIR CHILDREN WHEN THEY SEND THEM OFF TO SCHOOL – AS SOME FEAR MASS SHOOTINGS.

[GOV. KATHY HOCHUL]

“I’M OKAY IF YOU HAVE A FLIP PHONE — YOUR CHILD WANTS TO TALK TO YOU, OR YOU NEED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION. THEY SAY, “CAN YOU PICK ME UP AT 3 O’CLOCK?” TEXT THEM A MESSAGE, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IN THE WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA THROUGHOUT THE DAY.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

HOCHUL VOWS TO KEEP HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH PARENTS AND CHILDREN BEFORE INTRODUCING THE BILL FOR NEXT YEAR’S LEGISLATIVE SESSION – WHICH BEGINS IN JANUARY 2025.

AND NEW YORK ISN’T THE ONLY STATE LOOKING TO CHANGE KIDS’ CELL PHONE BEHAVIOR DURING SCHOOL HOURS.

THIS WEEK  – OHIO GOVERNOR MIKE DEWINE SIGNED A BILL INTO LAW REQUIRING EACH PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE STATE TO ADOPT OR UPDATE POLICIES RELATED TO STUDENT CELL PHONE USE DURING SCHOOL HOURS. THE RULES SHOULD LIMIT PHONE USE IN SCHOOLS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE — AND CAN EVEN INCLUDE BANS ON STUDENTS CARRYING PHONES ON SCHOOL GROUNDS. 

OHIO SCHOOL DISTRICTS WILL HAVE UNTIL JULY 2025 TO ENACT THE NEW PHONE POLICIES.

A STUDY PUBLISHED BY COMMON SENSE MEDIA SHOWS – 97% OF STUDENTS USE THEIR PHONES DURING SCHOOL HOURS. 

FOR STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS, I’M LAUREN TAYLOR.

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