Several US states are moving to ban cell phones, claiming the devices have greatly contributed to cyberbullying, poor mental health and a lack of learning.
Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia and California have prohibited use during school hours or are working on such restrictions.
One Minnesota school has completely banned smartphones from 8am to 3pm, claiming the move has led to more socializing, fewer distractions and overall happiness for children.
However, parents have raised concerns about the lack of communication with their children during the day due to fears of what could happen while they are apart – such as shootings and bullying.
Several US states are moving to ban cell phones, claiming the devices have greatly contributed to cyberbullying, poor mental health and a lack of learning
‘Everything is just so politicized, so divisive. And I think parents just fear what’s happening with their kids during the day,’ Shannon Moser, a New York parent of two teens, told PBS.
One parent wrote on parents.com: ‘… Given the many terrifying things that can and do happen in today’s schools, something about not having a direct line to her when she’s away from me just doesn’t sit well.
‘Between the threats of a school shooting and bullying, a parent’s mind is always swirling with worst-case scenarios,’ she wrote.
‘A quick ‘Hi Mom’ or being able to ask, ‘How’s the day going?’ goes a long way in easing these concerns—not just for parents, but kids, too.’
Principal Patrick Smith implemented the ban at Maple Grove Middle School in Minnesota last year, claiming the effort was to combat cyberbullying and fights between students in the hallways and to force students to focus on their studies instead of their devices.
Maple Grove Middle School in Minnesota banned cell phones a year ago, and the principal said the response has been an overwhelming success
Dailymail.com has contacted Smith for comment.
‘I believe [the ban] is game-changing and will have lasting impacts on our students for years to come,’ Smith told CBS News on Wednesday.
The board of ed asked parents for their opinions on a schoolwide cellphone ban at a county meeting, and Smith said the response was overwhelmingly positive, adding when they unveiled the plan, parents applauded.
‘There was no cross-the-table conversations, there was no interaction in the hallways.
‘And let’s be real, with these devices, our students — especially our teenagers — there’s a lot of drama that comes from social media, and a lot of conflict that comes from it,’ he told the outlet.
Since the ban, Smith claimed students have had more positive interactions with their peers.
While he could not provide data proving students’ grades have improved, he said parents informed him they had seen a difference in their performance.
‘I do notice that he is thriving and really focused and doing really well, participates in class discussions. I get feedback from the teachers on that,’ parent Kim Gillen told CBS.
Timber Creek High School in Florida also has an all-day cellphone ban. It initially faced roadblocks from parents who said their children should be able to contact them directly if needed
Smith encourages students to leave their cellphones in their lockers and said the device is confiscated for the day if they’re seen using it in the classroom or hallway, specifying that the rule applies from 8:10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. when the school day ends.
Like other educators, Smith said that ‘kids are happy’ with the cellphone ban.
‘Nobody has ever pushed back,’ he said on the Chad Hartman Show.
‘… In my experience, not one parent or community member has come in and said this is bogus; you shouldn’t be doing this; our kids should be able to have their phones.
‘It’s been very much supported by our community, parents, and staff.’
Parents or guardians can reach the students by calling the principal’s office, and each classroom has a phone for emergencies.
But the question remains if that will be enough if there’s a school lockdown or emergency where a student or teacher can’t reach the in-class phone.
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said the pros outweigh the cons and warned cellphone use during an emergency can do more harm than good.
‘During a lockdown, students should be listening to the adults in the school who are giving life-saving instructions, working to keep them safe,’ Trump said on the National Education Association site.
‘Phones can distract from that. Silence can also be key, so you also don’t want that phone noise attracting attention.
Students support schools prohibiting cellphone use during the day but express concerns over the lack of access to their phones in case of an emergency.
‘… Schools need to have these conversations upfront and explain the rationale behind new cellphone policies. The disruption to the educational environment is something parents understand.’
School districts around the country are working to implement similar cellphone bans to the one in Maple Grove, but with the caveat that students can still carry their phones on them and use them between classes.
In Orange County, Florida, an all-day cell phone ban initially faced roadblocks from parents who said their children should be able to contact them directly if needed.
Some students are pleased with the change, saying it has contributed to more honesty and acceptance between them and their classmates.
‘Now people can’t really be like: ‘Oh, look at me on Instagram. This is who I am,’ a 12th grader at Timber Creek High School in Florida told The New York Times.
‘It has helped people be who they are — instead of who they are online — in school.’
However, the student expressed concern that she couldn’t at least carry her cell phone while in class and the hallways, telling the outlet she would feel safer if she knew she could text her mom immediately.
A 2021 report revealed about 77 percent of U.S. schools prohibit nonacademic use of cell phones during school hours, with some adding a ‘We see it, we take it’ policy.
The number of studies showing a link between students’ mental and emotional deterioration and social media is growing, including a 2023 review by BMC Psychology, which found that screen time is associated with a student’s well-being and is linked to increased depression in girls.
‘The majority of our students, when we surveyed them, were thankful for it because it has reduced the stress in their life,’ Brush, Colorado Superintendent Bill Wilson told The Washington Post. ‘They’re not worried about what their friends are saying, at least not during school time.’