Los Angeles School District Bans Cellphones, Social Media For Students

Los Angeles School District Bans Cellphones, Social Media For Students

Its aim is to mitigate distractions, reduce anxiety, and curb cyberbullying to enhance the learning environment and address mental health concerns.

Siksha MUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 10:39 PM IST
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The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has announced a comprehensive ban on cellphone use by students during school hours. The ban is set to take effect in January 2025, pending final approval from the Board of Education. Its aim is to mitigate distractions, reduce anxiety, and curb cyberbullying to enhance the learning environment and address mental health concerns.

Detrimental effects of cellphone usage

According to the Los Angeles Times report, Nick Melvoin, a board member who spearheaded the resolution, emphasised the detrimental effects of cellphone usage in schools and stressed that students are constantly using their cell phones. He said, "Our students are glued to their cellphones, not unlike adults. They’re not talking to each other or playing at lunch or recess because they have their AirPods in."

This initiative aligns with a broader trend in California to limit smartphone use among students. California Assembly Bill 3216, introduced earlier this year, mandates school districts to implement policies restricting student smartphone use by July 2026. Governor Gavin Newsom supports this legislative move, reinforcing the state's commitment to addressing the mental health impacts of social media on youth.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently advocated for warning labels on social media platforms, underscoring the potential harm to young users. Governor Newsom echoed these concerns, emphasising the importance of focusing on studies rather than screens during school hours.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho proposed expanding the resolution to potentially include litigation against social media companies, citing their role in the mental health crisis among youth. The resolution passed with a 5-2 vote, highlighting varied board member concerns regarding equitable implementation and student needs.

Board President Jackie Goldberg shared a striking anecdote from a recent high school visit, where students communicated via cellphones rather than speaking to each other. "This is an addiction that is serious," Goldberg noted.

While some board members, like George McKenna, expressed reservations about the totality of the ban, others stressed the need for practical solutions. Tanya Ortiz Franklin suggested integrating communication apps on Chromebooks to facilitate school-related interactions without relying on personal phones.

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