New California law bans cell phones in classrooms | Doctors for Safe Technology (2023)

A new law signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom allows schools to find ways to reduce or eliminate cell phone use at school.

The first of its kind in the nation,AB272(Mursuchi 2019) empowers public and state schools to adopt a policy to reduce or prohibit the use of cell phones at school or under the supervision of school employees, except in certain circumstances, such as emergencies, teacher permission, medical necessity or private lessons.

Academic results and student well-being improve without mobile phones

Cell phones have become ubiquitous both inside and outside of classrooms in the United States. Studies confirm that they are distracting and hinder learning. The Pew Research Center revealed in a 2018 study that "95% of teens have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are online 'almost constantly.'"

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London School of Economicsposted a jobTechnology, distraction and student performance,in 2015. They surveyed 91 schools in four English cities where mobile phones were banned and found that student performance on high-stakes exams improved significantly after the ban was introduced. They found that the greatest gains in student achievement were made by the most disadvantaged and low-performing students. The study concluded that "schools could significantly reduce the educational achievement gap by banning cell phone use in schools." They underlined the need for a strict and broad implementation of the mobile phone ban to be successful.

Thorton et al. (2014)in his article,The mere presence of a cell phone can be distracting: impact on attention and task performance,It clearly backed up previous research showing that even when the phone is turned off but visible, it has a distracting impact. This has implications for both meaningful social interactions and academic performance.

Cell phone bans in Wisconsin and San Mateo, California are a success

2018 manyWisconsin school districtsBanned cell phones with only positive results. San Mateo passed one in 2019cell phone banduring school hours to improve students' academic performance and social well-being. The solution for San Mateo was to provide each student with a small neoprene sleeve with a magnetic closure. The student keeps the bag and phone in her possession until the end of school when she touches the release device at the front of the classroom, which automatically opens the bag. The school was so pleased with the pilot that it was adopted school-wide. Teachers now spend less time monitoring cell phone use in the classroom and more time in class. They have also noticed a significant increase in student engagement. An NBC news reporter interviewed a student about the show. She said: "I was skeptical at first. But now I like it because it gets students to socialize more and teachers say students talk to each other more instead of being far away on their phones."

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France bans smartphones in schools to reduce distraction

The French legislature approved in 2018legislationBan students ages 3-15 from bringing smartphones and tablets to school. If they have cell phones, they should be turned off. Officials said this is to reduce phone distractions, prevent phone addiction, and maintain classroom sanctity.

China bans mobile phones in schools to protect children's eyes

China has banned cellphones in classrooms amid growing evidence of the risk of eye damage from digital screens and concerns about nearsightedness. WatchChina bans smartphones in schoolsChina's Ministry of Education and National Health Commission have banned the use of mobile phones and tablets in classrooms in Shandong province, urging parents and teachers to:

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  • Avoid relying on electronic devices for teaching and homework, and use written assignments
  • Limit children's use of electronic screens to no more than one hour per day and no more than 15 minutes in a single session
  • Keep out of eyes and debris.
  • Have correct reading positions.
  • Provide enough backlight

An up-to-date list of international mobile phone bans can be found at EHTrust

Universities and law schools ban laptops

Princeton and UCLA 2014learn,The pen is more powerful than the keyboard: advantages of taking notes by hand over the laptop,showed that handwritten notes improved test performance as well as long-term information retention. This is believed to be due to the ability of writers to process information and rephrase it in their own words, thus enhancing learning. The authors conclude: “The studies we report here show that the use of laptop computers can negatively affect performance on educational assessments even, or perhaps particularly, when the computer is used for its intended role of facilitating note-taking .

New Maryland law asks "How much screen time is too much for college students?"

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The State of Maryland passed a new law in 2018 that requires the State of Maryland Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to do so.determineBest practices for the use of screens and devices in schools.HB1110 A Public Schools Act - Health and Safety Policies and Procedures - Digital Deviceswas endorsed by experts in classroom learning. Alex Molnar and Faith Boningerwrote,What a growing body of research shows, however, is that excessive computer use by children leads to several tangible adverse health effects. These include vision problems, sleep disorders, socio-emotional disorders, and dependence on digital devices.

Screen Schooled: Two Seasoned Teachers Reveal How Excessive Use Of Tech Is Making Our Kids Dumber

In 2017, Joe Clement and Matt Miles, both teachers for decades, published their bookScreentrained.In it, they describe their experiences before and after the introduction of digital technologies in their schools with compelling details and stories. They found that instead of improving learning, this technology was affecting students' education and social well-being. Teachers aren't advising ditching technology entirely, but they do offer tips for adopting smarter ways of educating students.

newspaper article

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Scientific article


  • Screen Schooled: Two Seasoned Teachers Reveal How Excessive Use Of Tech Is Making Our Kids Dumber. Joe Clement y Matt Miles. (2017)


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